I have been taking some classes at the local Community College. This past semester I signed up for an Ecology & Environmental Science class as well as a math class. Here is a little bit of what I learned about math:
I always thought I hated math, but in reality I think I just despised my 9th grade math teacher. I have always been a fairly good student. One of those lucky ones who don’t have to study much to make the grade. This is not an attempt to brag, I realize this is a blessing and one in which I can’t take credit for. My son has the same genetic coding. All that to say, my 8th grade teacher thought I was smart enough to take the advanced math class in 9th grade. At her urging I signed up for the advanced math in high school.
I don’t generally characterize myself as an introvert but I do have some of those tendencies. For example: I like time to think before answering. I have to recharge after social events or long work weeks. I loathe any attempt at chastising or embarrassing me. This is the quickest way to lose my loyalty and trust and to make it to the top of my “Eat Shit and Die Now” list.
My 9th grade teacher made that list. I was the fourth student that day to walk to her desk in the back of the room to ask her a question about solving an equation. She yelled at me and the entire class heard her yell at me. I was mortified and hurt and then angry. I never asked her another question. I hated math from that point on. I went out of my way to avoid it in defiance from that day forward. Dramatic, I know. But, that is the tendency of teens as they learn to maneuver through life.
Strangely enough, I made it all the way through law school and only took one algebra class. I took several accounting classes but that math is altogether different. This year I faced the 9th grade dragon and took an algebra class (Slayed it!). Much to my surprise I enjoyed it, a lot. Solving equations is much akin to solving any other puzzle. It’s calisthenics for your brain. I realized (light bulb) you cannot solve algebraic equations using reason. Most of us try to reason our way to an answer. This doesn’t work for math. Math is formula based. Math must be solved by the application of the formula. If you apply the formula you get the answer right every single time.
The Professor in this math class was the polar opposite of my 9th grade teacher. In fact, I wish every high school math student could be blessed with a teacher like Mrs. K. If they did, we would have many more “I got this” math students!
Next semester I am tackling two more math classes, back-to-back. I hope to keep this momentum going. I think I can… I think I can… And, she did!