It’s a question every math teacher hears. The study of space originates with geometry – in particular, Euclidean geometry , which combines space and numbers, and encompasses the well-known Pythagorean theorem Trigonometry is the branch of mathematics that deals with relationships between the sides and the angles of triangles and with the trigonometric functions.

Cambridge mathematician Timothy Gowers suggests one possible answer in his Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction, in answering the question “Why do so many people positively dislike mathematics.” He writes: “Probably it is not so much mathematics itself that people find unappealing as the experience of mathematics lessons – because mathematics continually builds on itself, it is important to keep up when learning it.” (His comment will ring true to anyone who remembers endless third-grade drills on the multiplication tables.) Standardized instruction and memorization of these details has to move at a certain plodding pace, which leaves …