Language of Arithmetic: Division

Mathematical symbols and formula are ways of expressing relationships in the world. They serve to proffer solutions to human situations.

East-Central Africa December 28, 2020

Mathematical symbols and formulas are ways of expressing relationships in the world. The simple basic arithmetic logics of the elementary branch of mathematics that deals with division, addition, subtraction and multiplication provide powerful insights to human situations and relationships. Here we examine The branch of division:


The concept of division in elementary mathematics is represented in ways such as:  4/2, 15/4, and 10 divided by 5.

The first example, 4/2 shows an act of burden bearing.  In this case, the division rule approves of sharing the burden and giving each individual roles which results in two to one.  2/1 is also equal to 2 which means that one person bears two out of the responsibilities. Embedded in this concept is that dividing work among individuals can result in a more precise understanding of what each individual’s contribution to solving a problem is.

The second example, 15/4, gives another dimension to how burdens can be attended to among people.  The arithmetic rule approves extracting whole numbers that can stand on their own, leaving the remaining burdens of the number under.  In this case, we can have 33/4 out of 15/4.  This teaches that when there are burdens or issues to attend to, this act of division can help find out from the bulk of the people, those that can stand on their feet to take care of themselves which will reduce the burden on the burden bearers.  As shown above, three can comfortably stand on their own as they are called “whole numbers”.  At times, problems in the different facets of the society, whether it be political, social or religious, are compounded and made more complex by leaving them in the form of 15/4 rather than taking time to see to or encourage those that can take care of themselves to do so while the real ones in need, becomes the object of attention.

The third approach is 10 divided by 5.  This approach is different from the above forms.  In the above styles, the load is being carried or situated over the burden bearer which can make it more burdensome.  But the third places the burden (10) before the bearers (5) to look at and determine how to resolve their challenge.  This approach will give room for reasoning and discussions on how to take care of the challenges on ground and on equal basis.  But in a situation of 10 divided by 3, the third approach applies here but with a difference in the area of the three each, placing personal responsibilities as well as corporate responsibility on the most vulnerable who has no one in particular to cater for it. It also posits clearly that in as much as some people will have those directly responsible for them, others will need a collective responsibility to get to where they need to be or get what they need from life.

An insightful lesson on division is that burden bearing is part of life.  It involves sharing and caring for someone even to the point of denying oneself. The greatest burden of life is the burden of souls for salvation.  How can the principle of arithmetic division help God’s children get the best done in our systems whether educational, political, social, economic or spiritual? Jesus ministry was a ministry of division for burden-bearing. He bore the burden, then shared it among 12, 70, 120 and on. Adventist Church as an institution believes in running the church as divisions for wider reach in soul-winning. 

Therefore, the arithmetic principle of division must be positively welded in our educational systems for its positive impact on the minds of our young people in this era of self-centeredness. They can learn how to divide their time to serve God and to bless humanity, even standing as a whole number rather than a burden.


Ochulor Nwaugo

Dr. Nwaugo is a lecturer at the Department of Languages and Literary Studies at Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.

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