Saturday, January 7, 2012

Math Is Hard - Part 1

Math Is Hard
Part 1
For many people, the subject of math like algebra, trigonometry, and calculus, can be a nightmare.  It is too hard for some people and I happen to be in that category.  While I can do basic math and my mind can be very logical, these other subjects are like big monsters that haunt me.  I'm at a place in life where I can get by without knowing the advanced math, but I often wish it was not a mental block within my head.

You see, back in high school, I only took the required math classes I had to take.  When I went to college, I took the bare minimum to get by and graduate.  Math was hard for me.  High school algebra was to me, as difficult as trying to land a man on the moon.

Fortunately in high school, I had a wonderful math teacher who believed in me, more than I believed in myself.  Algebra was a daily struggle and even though parts of it made sense, my brain could not complete the string of thoughts in my brain to complete the calculations.  No matter how hard I tried and no matter what I did, it was hard.  I worked my tail off in every way possible to pass the class and learn the material.

On one Algebra test in high school, I remember staring at the test paper and feeling completely lost.  My brain was frozen and I could not remember any of the required calculations.  The fears increased with each moment, realizing that I would fail the test if my brain did not unfreeze.  I managed to get a couple of the questions answered but I still had half the test to complete and time was running out.  My panic increased as the minutes passed.  At the end of the class, I waited until the other students had turned in their tests and left the room.  I handed my test into my teacher with shame because I knew I would fail since I had not completed it.

I'm not sure if it was pity or if she just believed in me and she knew how hard I was trying.  I was so shocked when she allowed me to come back in my free time during the day and complete the test.  She trusted that I would not cheat or find out the answers and just come back to complete it.  It took me most of the day to do this but by the end of the day, I had completed the test.  In fact, when I got my grade, I had received an "A".

One of the things I have always dealt with in life is an event that happened when I was in first grade.  I was struggling to learn my math tables and my father was a tyrant.  We would practice for hours with flash cards and if I got one wrong, he would scream at me as if I was the most stupid person on the planet.  I'm sure he meant well at some inner part of his core, but it was a horrifying experience.  After all, the man barely passed high school and could hardly put a sentence together that made sense.

On top of that, no one knew for a long time that I was not making it in first grade math.  From what I was told, math was so difficult for me that out of desperation, the teacher set me off in the corner of the room during math lessons.  I was given paper, scissors, glue and other art supplies to play with so I would stay occupied during the math lesson that everyone else was being taught.  She was giving me a passing grade to get me out of her class, rather than doing all she could to work to help me learn.  I was not a bad student either as I always worked hard.

(continued on Part 2 - Math Is Hard - posted on  Jan 8, 2012)

Related Blog Posts:
1)  Math Is Hard - Part 1 (Posted 1/7/12)
2)  Math is Hard - Part 2  (Posted 1/8/12)
3)  Math is Hard - Part 3  (Posted 1/9/12)

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