Algebra and Frustration

I always thought I was good at math. 

I’m not. 

I was good at basic math, in elementary school, and past that I’m not great at remembering formulas, rules or shortcuts. As a college student I have been exemplary, in every subject and at every point in my academic career. 

Except for algebra. 

I have to see it worked out five or six times before I can do it myself, and I still don’t understand it when I can do it. 

I’m not unique in this shortcoming, many people struggle with math. Many smart and talented people are completely unable to learn the language of mathematics, 

(And I promise there’s a point here, I’m just taking the long way to get there)

I’m not good at not being good at things. 

I’m a poor loser and an arrogant student. I have trouble asking for help and I feel intense shame when I get low marks or (gasp) fail a class. I have a competitive side and that part of me is a real prick. 

I want to be a better man, a better writer, a better friend and husband and father and nowhere in that desire does quadratic equation help me, I can’t apply Pythagorean theorem to measure the sides of this triangle, where my love and my hate form the straights and my madness is the long, slanted hypotenuse and it’s all I can do to understand those terms myself, much less apply them in real time. 

I don’t like math, I don’t like the way it feels so slippery in my mind. It’s like trying to understand other people’s emotions or make them, make you, understand mine. 

But I try. 

I don’t understand, but I’m trying. I hope that I can pass this course, I hope that I can figure this out, before I graduate, or flunk out. 

6 thoughts on “Algebra and Frustration”

  1. When I was in Radiation therapy school we had to have Radiation Physics Math. I cannot tell you the sleepless nights, crying, raged filled days that I experienced that year. The formulas were foreign to me… I could memorize things but never grasp them, never understand them. I was like a paid performer repeating numbers back but having no idea how I had come up with the answer. (still am) Since the Physics Math was one half of the grade and was a pass or fail for the program, I had to hire a tutor. I paid this tutor $100.00 a week for 50 weeks that year to get me through it. It was a terrible time… I had three young ones then, was newly divorced, was losing my home… I could go on and on. But I got through it. And Matt, I don’t now how. I really don’t know how. I FAILED algebra in High School.(20 yrs before) I had to r-learn everything. I’ve never been good at Math… But the day I finished Radiation Physics Math I felt like I could conquer the world. You are a phenomenal person. YOU will get through ANYTHING you put YOUR mind to. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think a lot of it comes down to having a really great teacher. I teach math in a way that is fun. We’ve done a math murder mystery this year and this week for St. Patrick’s Day will crack a code to open a treasure (pot of gold). I took Graph Theory twice. The first time had a D+ and took it again with a teacher who related it to current pop culture and earned an A-. It’s all in how its presented!

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