Thursday, May 4, 2006

Is she saying anything interesting yet?

In a word: no.

I realize this week's post have been fluffy at best and I promise something you might be able to sink your teeth into tomorrow, but for this evening I have one more frivolous post.

First, I had to share this great sign that my mom and sister picked up for me last time they were hanging out.

I am horrific at all things math. My brain absolutely zones - it is really quite frightening. In fact when my Mom first gave this sign to me I was so busy trying to figure out if the math problems were indeed wrong that I missed the point ("There are three kinds of people...)

It all brings me back to a far more frightening time...

In order to graduate from college I had to pass a math course. After successfully failing "Math for the Liberal Arts" (SERIOUSLY mistitled!) during a school semester I decided my only shot was to take a math course during the summer at a Junior College near us. To open up the College Algebra class the professor asked us what our previous math experience was. I honestly shared that I had made it through High School Geometry and Algebra 1.5 (Note no Calculus even though I was in college prep).

She then put a problem on the board and asked if any of us knew how to solve it. I looked at it and in a rush of memories (post-traumatic syndrome?) I yelled out, "FOIL!"
She grimaced.

I am not sure if that mnemonic device is universal but to me it meant 'First, Outside, Inside, Last' - a handy way to remember how to solve algebra problems that come with parenthesis. My 'kind' professor was quick to explain that this childish device will really only help you if you have only two numbers in the parenthesis and apparantly that is a rare occurrence once you get to College Algebra.

After class she asked me to stay behind and told me that she thought I should drop the course. I think I uttered something profound like, "Ummm, what?" And then she told me that she was going to recommend to the registrar that I be dropped from the course.

Can you do that?

I begged, I pleaded and FINALLY I got across to her that in order to graduate from my four year school I needed this math credit. PLEASE do not kick me out - I need this class. That swayed her. She mumbled something about giving me a chance since I was not there for 13th grade.

I have always felt bad for those who landed in her class and were trying to achieve something more for themselves and Junior College was the way they needed to go.

I studied my ass off and got a 'C'.


Songbird said...

I am *very* bad at math. My reasonably good SAT score was thanks to a patient teacher who retrained a whole class of algebra-impaired but otherwise bright students at just the right time.

peripateticpolarbear said...

I broke my father's heart by being utterly uninterested in math. I think I probably could have been average at it had I put in any effort, but I didn't and wasn't. My college math classes (had to pass 2) were a nightmare that culminated in my dad (the engineering professor) coming down to school to spend my entire birthday weekend tutoring me in math so I could get my C and move on.

I, also, was looking at the problems.

Teri said...

me wasn't actually until you mentioned it that I noticed the sign only mentioned two kinds of people!

math is the only class I have ever failed a test in, ever ever ever. I got a 30% on a calculus test. three problems, one of them mostly right.


Girl said...

Oooo...I'm so glad you like it and aren't offended!

I tend to offend people these days ;)

net said...

Seriously, that's how I majored in Social Work & Psych! I looked over the choices and since all I had to take was Stats (and I could use a calculator!), it was a no-brainer (no pun intended!) God WAS at work in that choice.

Today, I rely on the Church Secretary, Financial Secretaries, Treasurer and Auditors.

Math: Not a spiritual gift.

will smama said...

teri - I wish I could say the same but I once got an '8' on a Latin final... out of 200.

My favorite phrase when someone confuses me (and I think I stole it from something, but I am not sure what is, "Ummm, I was told there would be no math on this quiz."

Purechristianithink said...

I was in luck because I went to college back when Computer Science was still part of the Math department--sort of an after-thought, like hmmm Where should we put this?

So I fulfilled my "math" requirement by taking some very basic computer classes at the community college in my home town one summer. Midway through my college years, they made CS its own department, but they grandfathered in those of us who had taken Computer Science to fulfill the math requirement during our first two years. Phew! Dodged THAT bullet!

Sue said...

I too am very bad at math. My brain just doesn't like the linear nature of math. I prefer more abstract thinking.

Mike Sheppard said...

I was a math major myself and can understand the struggles people have with math. Even Einstein said "Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater." I don't know if that's a compliment or an insult!

Math can be fun, but most people (myself included) get trapped up in the long-division-boring-parts and miss the beauty of what you can prove. With that in mind I started a math blog, for the rest of us, that shows what everday things you can prove - with the proof being an optional link - that shows math isn't just about square roots and long division. Hope you enjoy it!


will smama said...

mike: I appreciate your efforts. I really do. And although I consider the title of your blog to be an oxymoron I went and checked it out anyway.

I can see your passion for the math and all things fun one can do with math, but you see I cannot get there with you and here is why.


When you look at that you see: a+b=c

When I look at that I see: a+ wah, wah, wah wah...ooh look - Something Sparkly!

As for being a math major that in and of itself does not impress me since two of my friends are Math Professors... and neither one can figure out how much to tip the waitress.

Sue said...

Great answer will smama! Mathphobes unite!

RuthRE said...

For my math credit I too took a course called "Math For Liberal Arts" and it was aptly titled! It was easier than 4th grade math...and yet my classmates had trouble!

I'm serious...this was easy stuff....I resist all study of the subject :) Basically it was about voting systems....(i.e. what makes a majority) Very lucky!

LutheranChik said...

One of my attractions to my major in college (advertising) was that, at the time, there was no math requirement. Really. [hanging head in shame]

I am fine with simple arithmetic; can do fancy-schmancy things like divide fractions, even -- but I absolutely suck at algebra. I never understood the why of it all, which tends to dampen my enthusiasm for learning things. (And I have to say -- in my adult life I think I've used high-school-level algebra exactly once in a job situation. So I'm still fuzzy on the why, at least for me.)

You know what, though -- I suspect that if I audited an algebra class now, at this point in my life, I'd probably do okay at it just because I wouldn't have the same performance anxiety. It would just be a lark. Then again, maybe not...because my friends still haven't persuaded me to try Sudoku.

the reverend mommy said...

I'm with Mike.
I have a BS in Math.
I LOVE math.
Sick, huh?

will smama said...

My "Math for the Liberal Arts" class was a heavy dose of statistics. I failed.

Rev. Mommy, didn't you once confess that you just found out you are one of THOSE teacher pleasers... and now you are a math geek too.

Maybe it is a good thing I am not going to the FoH.

Anonymous said...

There are 10 kinds of people in this world. Those that understand binary, and those that don't.