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Sunday, September 18, 2011


Math has never been my strong suit. Early on, I despised math and that hatred followed me for quite some time.  I recall the worksheets with word problems from elementary school making me furious. Not because they were too difficult, but because they seemed very unfair to me. "Johnny has 6 pieces of gum. If Johnny gives 2 pieces to James, and 1 piece each to Katie and Jessica, how many pieces does he have left?" My first thought was that Johnny was pretty mean to play favorites with James. If I were Katie or Jessica, I'd be pissed.  How was I supposed to solve the math problem when there was social injustice afoot?

I didn't fair much better in middle school when they introduced Algebra. At first, I was excited at the thought of letters being used in equations.  Letters were English and Spelling related.  I excelled at both of those things. My confidence was very short lived. Using letters with numbers was completely confusing to me.  I viewed the letters and numbers as mortal enemies who should not be in the same room with each other. I daydreamed about X kicking 10's ass to the 3rd power.  I was baffled for weeks by the D+ on my report card, wondering where the hell the other half of the equation was.

I really thought things would turn around for me by high school.  Geometry had a lot to do with different shapes.  I learned my shapes from Sesame Street characters.  How bad could it be?  I discovered the answer within the first week.  Each student was given a compass to draw a perfect circle. Approximately 10 minutes into the lesson, I was headed to the nurse with blood running down my hand from a compass puncture wound. Not only did I suck at math, I was also being mocked and harassed by its tools.

I labored and toiled my way through various math classes throughout high school and college. I was satisfied with the lowest passing grade.  I had come to terms with never being an architect, engineer, or math teacher. Especially, math teacher. I was confident that I would barely ever use the little math knowledge I was able to retain. I forced it to the back of my brain with the rest of the information I had deemed impractical and useless. It sat dormant, next to "how to program the time on my VCR" and behind the lyrics to  80's sitcom theme songs. Finally, I was "standing tall, on the wings of my dream"...I had survived my war against math.  Little did I realize, math is "everywhere you look"....

Without math, I wouldn't be able to balance my check book, know how much cheese I need from the deli, unequally slice a pie to my advantage, know that the shortest distance between me and the beer in my fridge is a straight line, count the days until my next vacation, know that the Pats favored over the Lions by 7 is a good bet, or know when to throw my scale out the window.  I've learned math isn't something to hate or fear. Math is not the enemy.  Simply put, if A = math and B = me, then A + B = friends.

1 comment:

Sarah Jane said...

Love the reasons you just might need math. Go to grad school, however, and none is required!