I think I would like to study how different people process numbers.
Numbers don’t arrange themselves in orderly patterns in my brain.
They do in my brother Ben’s brain. He can reason in his head what 876 x 81 is. He can easily remember how old Moses was when he died. Accordingly and naturally, he loves math.
I, on the other hand, have a history of hating math. As I grew older I learned to like and understand the concepts. Still, even though I knew exactly how the problems were supposed to be worked and why they worked, I often got the answers wrong.
I think I loved geometry because the shapes and patterns were much more orderly in my head than numbers were.
This is why I think I process shapes and textures easier than I process numbers:
Sometimes, as a cashier, someone will owe me forty cents. When this happens they often hand me a quarter, a dime, and a nickle. Do a quarter, dime, and nickle add up to forty cents?
I mean, three dimes is thirty cents. Ten and ten and ten. That adds up quickly in my head and I can toss the coins in the cash register and send the customer on their way. But twenty-five and ten and five?
To my brother Ben, those three numbers would add up to forty in and instant. To me they don’t. I have to stop, and think, twenty-five and ten is thirty five, and then five more is forty, okay, and meanwhile the customer is waiting and I am not quite sure I didn’t accidentally count the nickle twice.
Soon, in order to save time, I simply memorized the fact that a dime, nickle, and quarter is forty. That way, when someone hands me one of each, I don’t even think of the numbers. I think of the coins themselves, and know that one of each is forty.
Is that not interesting to you? Maybe not.
I find it interesting. How do you process numbers? Do they add up in orderly even patters in your head?