Monday, January 13, 2014

The History of Studying Math

This isn't really about the history of studying math. This is about MY history studying math.

It all began growing up in a household where my mom worked at a major University, and my dad was an elementary school teacher. That's right! My dad was a professional educator of small, bratty children! Frankly, raising me should have been a piece of cake! (But you would have to ask my parents) Anyway… I should have had a very solid grasp on the basic mathematical concepts from a very early age, but it didn't seem to matter how my parents would try to help, drill, test, or tutor me, all math related concepts were far beyond my grasp.

This frustrated both my parents and I to no end! I discovered that I really resent not being good at something that I feel like I should be good at. And I still feel like I should be good at math. My parents and I decided that I should try Kumon Math, a program where you basically get homework, and have to hand it in. You could also go during specific times and get extra help from tutors there. For a little while, I really did put in effort and tried, but the less I understood, the more frustrated I would get. And the more frustrated I got, the more devious I became. I would get really sneaky about hiding my Kumon books, my parents would drive me to drop it off and I would spend 5 or 10 mins in the bathroom, and then go back out, pretending I had picked up my new books. I have to say, as ticked off as my parents must be reading this know, I gave a VERY convincing performance. I should really consider acting, or at least being a professional sociopath. But anyway… My parents eventually caught on, and gave up on spending money trying to get my brain to absorb equations, calculations and the times tables.

Jr High came along and I spent a great deal of time trying to prefect my math avoidance techniques. I had one teacher who would truly try to help me through my mental math blocks, and few teachers who just seemed to get frustrated when I didn't understand what they believed was simple and straightforward. Thankfully, part of my grand plan was to make friends with a math wizard, Renee. Even at my tender age, I learned that life is all about who you know!

I was very happy that Renee and I ended up at the same high school. And even though she went into the smart kid math classes, and I was in the less smart kid math classes, she continued to be a big help in getting me through class alive. I also made a few other friends, one of them being a sweetest goth you'd ever meet, Kevin. Kevin was also a math wiz and he spent time tutoring me. As did Dorian, who I think was dating one of my friends at the time… But anyhow, with all of this help, I managed to get through my high school diploma exams, and graduate! (*APPLAUSE*) And I thought I would never need to know how to solve for 'x' ever again!

*SIGH* Fast forward 12 years, and here I am, back in the math game. Back to my living nightmare. In order to stay in my Stats class, and therefore graduate when I would like to graduate, I have to take and pass an exam to show that I have the required skills. Here is the thing… I am confident that I have the skills to pass statistics, I am less certain that I have the skills to pass the exam to show that I have skills. This test has algebra and calculus, and I have not done, nor have I needed to use those "skills" since high school. So I'm pooched.

Thankfully, I am still friends with people who have basically been able to remind me of how I do these things, a group that still includes Renee, and my friend Hilary. Hilary even went so far as to make me a video to try to show me how to solve one question on the practice exam, which bless her, was really confusing. (Not her actual video, but just the steps, and remember equations and all that brew haha.) I am just really hoping that they don't ask that question on the actual exam. If they do, I'll be ok until about step 5, and then I'm lost!

But I really only need to get 12 out of the 20 questions right, and I think I can manage that much at least! But never, EVER can I see the need for me personally to need to figure out how long someones shadow is, or what the slope of a line on a graph might be. I haven't needed these "skills" in the last 12 years, and I doubt that I will need them in the next 12 either. Now I know that there are people who do these kind of things, day and a day out, and in there case this is all practical and useful knowledge that serves them well, and pays their bills. But this is not my cup of tea! I have never had any desire to launch rockets in space, or build tall buildings. I will leave that up to the people that this nonsense makes sense for!! This is why I'm a history major. I just want to read and critically think about what they did versus what they could have done…

THAT MAKES SENSE! (*rant over*)


  1. Yeah that basically sums up my math history too... and I'm pretty sure Dorian was dating me (Hilary). Of course my now chosen program is mostly math based and I get the joy of learning to take the area of a graph after it's been spun around the x-axis to create a 3-D object. Yup, makes no sense to me either. Thus I have a tutor. I'm not afraid to admit I need help. ^_^
    Good luck on your test and if you need more help don't hesitate to ask! <3

  2. Oh yeah! PASSED!! Boo ya!! So I get to stay in Stats!