I don’t know why I have such an aversion, but I think I just don’t have a numbers brain. I’m cool with the functional math of balancing a check book, but the minute you get into X and Y I’m all, “Dear Algebra, please stop asking me to find your X. She is so over you and, no, I don’t know Y.”

Give me literature, history, or even science any day of the week over math and I am all in. Hooligan 1, poor guy, takes after me and is doing some quality time in summer school, trying to muscle his math GPA into a higher bracket. It is ugly, and I feel for him. I really do, but I’m also super glad I can’t help him because…math.

**shudder**

So, Reds, what was the subject you disliked the most in school? And if any of you say you loved them all, kindly back away from the keyboard and go sit in the principal’s office. Seriously.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Here's the thing. I love math. I do. I think it is astonishing that it works, and that people can figure things out, like how far away a star is, and how many parking places will fit into a parking lot. It's gorgeous. It's reliable.

I just don't understand how to do it.

I mean--you should be in my office on the days my producer and I are trying to write our stories. One of us will say: "Is it the big number into the little number? Or the little number into the big number?" I have never been able to do 8-plus anything, with 8 plus five being the worst, seriously. Every time it has me counting on my fingers, or saying: 8 plus four is 12, plus one more.

HOWEVER. If a sweater that's regularly priced $300.00 (or whatever) is on sale for WHATEVER percent off, I can totally figure that out.

Science, yes. History, yes (after someone showed me it was a story.) English, yes, passionately. Chemistry no--UNTIL the day I figured out how to do those chemical equations. I was in love. But you hardly ever have to use those.

My FAVORITE math thing (and proof there IS an answer to "tell me how I am ever going to use this!"): We were at a pizza place, 9 of us. We had two pizzas to share. We said to the guy--can you cut them into 9 pieces instead of 8?

Sure, he said.

SO HE CUT ONE OF THE EIGHTHS IN HALF!!

I am still laughing.

JENN: Pizza guy is clearly my people! LOL! And just because I had to go deeper into the art of cutting pizza - here's some pizza slicing for math lovers that will bend your brain (it's Hank's fault):

The Mirror: Perfect Way to Slice Pizza Revealed |

HALLIE EPHRON: I love math, zoomed through with A's until I hit trigonometry and then...down the rabbit hole. But I came back to it as an adult and aced calculus. And my PhD is in educational measurement which takes you deep into statistics and multivariate analysis. Loved the part of the program.

JENN: I understood, like, two words out of that sentence, Hallie.

HALLIE: History is my nemesis. I can't remember names or dates or sequences. Dense blocks of text make me glaze over. I'd probably do better today at it, if I could LISTEN to the texts. And you'd think I'd have loved English but I took exactly one English class in college, required English 101 and when the professor said I needed remedial writing I was out of there.

RHYS BOWEN: I don't think I have a mathematical brain. I am not good at Suduko, whereas a woman I know who I might describe as thick as a plank can race through it! However I was good at math in school. I didn't particularly like it but I got good grades. Geometry was my favorite. I am very visual and I could prove things I could see. Hallie, I am so in awe that you did calculus as an adult!

My least favorite subject was physics because we had a teacher who made it so boring. My son had a physics teacher who set them fabulous challenges...a car that could run the length of the 600 hall on the power of a mousetrap. That kind of thing. I can't tell you how many eggs were dropped off my balcony in the name of science!

Strangely enough I produced two children and now at least 4 grandchildren who are math whizzes. Sam is studying engineering at college, Lizzie did 4 years if engineering at high school. The twins both tested in the 99 th percentile nationally in math. And girl twin Mary Clare has just done high school geometry in a 4 week summer school so she can enter high school doing pre calculus! ( shudder). They don't get it from me! But like Hank I can calculate when it counts. I know exactly what my grocery bill will be, and how much my 30 percent off item will cost!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I am horrible at math. The woooorst. I don't know my times tables, and have to count everything up or down from five times (the only one I memorized.) I like to blame the gaping holes in my knowledge on the fact that I spent 2nd grad in three different schools in two different continents, but really, I think I'm just a numbers dud. The greatest day of my life was when I got a phone with a calculator app.

I enjoy reading popular accounts of hard science, although I found studying it (again, with the math) tedious. I am, of course, brilliant at English lit and history. Don't @ me, bro.

LUCY BURDETTE: I would say I’m in the middle of the Reds. I don’t hate math but on the other hand it’s not my best area either. I took calculus in high school, but realized quickly in college that I would have to work a lot harder than I was willing to. It was one of the classes I dropped as a freshman LOL. In graduate school, we had to pass statistics, and we had a very serious professor, who wouldn't have passed anyone on charm alone. We took the first test and I was pretty sure I flunked. Instead, I got the only A in the class. Very very mysterious – somehow my brain took over and did what was needed, though I did not understand it.

So anyway, can you tell that we leave the math in this group to Hallie?

INGRID THOFT: Just this morning I had a mini math crisis: I was on the stair climber at the gym, and it asked me how many customized intervals I wanted to do rather than how many minutes. What?! I want to do ten minutes of two intervals, which aren’t of equal length, so you figure it out, fancy machine. We were at a stand-off, as the step I was on slowly started to descend. I took a stab at eight intervals, and I was right! It was a math victory, which should indicate very clearly that I hate math.

I also hate chemistry with a loathing that can’t be overstated. I took it in high school and required a tutor to get a half decent grade. And to add insult to injury? My father was a chemistry major at MIT! Where did those genes go? One of the delights of being a grown-up is that I never have to take chemistry again. Ever.

HALLIE: Intervals? There were no intervals in Statistics, basic or advance or multivariate. (And PS, as you might guess, I love chemistry. SO logical. Very little to memorize.)

JENN: I hated Chemistry with a passion, but I did love my Chemistry teacher, Mr. Capazzi, who actually gave me a pass on charm 'cause it sure wasn't my grades that got me through. LOL.

Words and numbers do not belong together!

So, how about it, Readers? What school subject was the bane of your existence?

I feel your pain, Jenn . . . math and I [except for the basic checkbook balancing part] do not get along well at all.

ReplyDeleteHigh school [shudder] . . . I loved English, adored science, was good at typing, bookkeeping, history and geography. I was, fair at French, meh at Latin. Aside from disliking math and physical education, I guess I wasn’t meant to be in Chorus. I loved that elective and wanted to take it again, but the teacher refused to let me. I was devastated . . . .

LOVED chorus, too. We had a small a cappella group that I was in. So much fun.

DeleteThe top math students at my high school were also excellent at music. I have wondered if there is a connection between math and music.

DeleteMusic is mathematical

DeleteJoan - Electives were always my favorites. What a lousy teacher not to let you take it again. Humph. I’m miffed on your behalf.

ReplyDeleteI'm perfectly fine with the plain old basic math. No issues there. But when it came to algebra or geometry, it's all Greek to me. I used to get my teachers mad when I said, "What's the use of solving for X, when it is something all the time. Just tell me the numbers and I'll add them up for you."

ReplyDeleteAnd yet, when I took Accounting, I aced that. Meanwhile, I was kicked out of the Algebra course because I was just so bad at it.

I wish I’d given accounting a go, Jay. I think I’d have like it.

DeleteMath and I were on speaking terms until algebra. I soon discovered I was unable to learn the language of algebra. I really did not care what they were talking about. I told my daughter and granddaughters that I was sorry I passed that down to them. I am a fully functioning adult without the math skills that beat me.

ReplyDeleteLOL - same here!

DeleteI did well in ordinary math and book keeping, too. But algebra was very difficult for me. We had a terrible teacher who was coach, so if you were a jock you got help, the rest of us struggled. I liked typing and shorthand, also English and history.

ReplyDeleteOur algeabra teacher was a coach and the driver’s ed teacher - ugh!

DeleteI'm in the no-math camp, although I did balance three checkbooks yesterday, Debs, and I do know my times tables. I recently ordered more bubble wrap from Staples. I had the choice of 3/16 and 5/16 and had to figure out which was the littler bubbles. Guess which arrived - the bigger ones. Gah. Impossible. I also had to take statistics in my PhD program and barely squeaked by with a C. In high school I stopped math after geometry, but I finished fourth year German AND French.

ReplyDeleteEdith, that is cool that you had four years of German and French. Because of Proposition 13, which affected cuts in public education, my public school offered either one Latin, French, German or Spanish. Before Prop. 13, Italian was also taught and more classes were offered in various languages.

DeleteI remember a teacher from France visited our class in the 5th grade and I wanted to learn French. It is strange that public schools did not offer foreign languages until high school. In Europe, kids start learning English and other languages years earlier.

Diana

I tapped out after geometry too - thank goodness!

DeleteBibliophile, it's crazy not to start languages in kindergarten! US schools start instruction exactly when research shows that children lose their innate ability to acquire another language fluency simply by being immersed in it - at adolescence.

DeleteMath was the worst for me too! Although basic algebra was okay but geometry? Who cares, although it is geometry that I have used in real life. Before putting in the stakes for a new garage we had to make sure the angles were right and that each side was exactly the same. But what is calculus?

ReplyDeleteOh and Sudoku; I love it and it isn't math at all even though numbers are used but they could be any character or symbol.

My gosh, I never thought of Sudoku that way! It’s not the numbers! Oh my goodness, that is life-changing.

DeleteAhem. How exactly is Sudoku NOT math? You're solving for "X" over and over...

DeleteMath has always been the bane of my existence. I can do Sudoku because I see it as a picture. Yeah, I know I'm weird.

DeleteHallie, you may be solving for X, but I am not solving for X. :-) I am just seeing it as a pattern. Sort of… Holding all the numbers in my head at the same time.

DeleteSudoku is logic, not math. You can do it with nine different colors, if that's how you think. I'm very much a visual/spatial Sudoku solver, and I do them all the time just for fun. No math required. Your notion of solving for X in Sudoku frightens me, Hallie.

DeleteI'm not solving for X either, Hallie! I'm actually good at Sudoku. Imagine that!

DeleteSolid geometry. I can't graph in three dimensions. Bane of my existence my senior year of high school and macro economics in B-school. And computer programming.

ReplyDeleteSoftware, gah! My brain does NOT work that way. I had to write a simple program as part of my tech-writing certification and got a new crop of white hair that week...

DeleteOh economics. Totally hated it. Most of it is made up junk anyway.

DeleteMath was always confounding to me, but I put that down to the fact that we moved between Canada, Germany and England during my early school years and the method used to teach math was different in each country. I simply didn't take to math the way I did to languages, so I focused on French class and let math slip to the background. I regret that now. And I no longer balance my cheque book!

ReplyDeleteAre you a metric gal? I’m in Canada and Istill struggle with the metric system!

DeleteI'm more like Hallie on this one. I have an MS in Economics, so I had to take the full calculus series and calculus-based statistics and econometrics (its a word made up by economists, but it just means really, really mathematical analysis of economic data.) I had hated math when I was in high school, but once I needed it for something I found I could learn it just fine. And I share Hallie's experience with history. It seems to me like it SHOULD be interesting -- it's just the stories of what happened in the world, for Pete's sake -- but I am convinced most teachers suck the life right out of it.

ReplyDeleteSounds like we were separated at birth, Susan...

DeleteI agree with teachers making history a snore. I had one teacher in HS who told some of the most interesting stories about "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne, the British general who graced our shores during the Revolution. What a hoot he was!

DeleteEveryone raise hands for math? Of course. Numbers don't talk to me. Is there a word for dyslexic only with numbers? So my worst nightmare- when I worked in business research, the bosses decided that all of us who did not come from a b-school background needed to get better at the financial information. I had to start with an intro course in basic accounting. I was so terrified I overstudied and got an A! Which only proved I still had the ability to memorize info i did not understand and forget it day after exam.

ReplyDeleteHand in the air here! :)

DeleteI loved Biology and disliked Chemistry; loved Geometry and hated Algebra. I think if x=3, we should just use 3.

ReplyDeleteI loved History, English, foreign languages, and Band, as they were where my brain was happiest.

I am not a math person. I do the "multiply times something I know and add" - for example, 6 x 7? I known 6 x 6 is 36, add another 6, so 6 x 7 is 42. I was told for two straight years that "I was too dumb to do math and I'd never make anything of myself." I think I developed a mental block. And these were women teachers!

ReplyDeleteEnglish and history? Bring it!

The Girl is better at math than I am (I went to school in the stone age where I could choose the academic course that was 5 years of English, 3 science so got away with 2 years of math - never got to trigonometry, etc.). The Boy is really good at it - he struggled a bit with honors algebra II this year, but only because he always did the work in his head. This year, he needed to write it out to keep it straight and he tried to get away with not doing it that way.

I loved chemistry. My teacher, Mr. Eggleston, was one of my favorites, so funny. I got to the end of my sophomore year and was afraid to take physics - too much math. So I decided to take AP Chemistry, because Mr. Eggleston was the teacher (joke was on me, there was probably more math in AP Chem). At the end of the year, browsing courses for my senior year, I discovered I wasn't qualified to take AP Chem because I'd never done trig or pre-calculus. When I told this to Mr. Eggleston, he shrugged and said, "You're my best lab student and second-highest average in the class. I knew you could do it."

But still...thank goodness for calculators and Excel!

Mary/Liz

Mary/Liz, wow, that Boy with that mental math skill. My dad born 1921) did most of his math in his head always, only relying on an adding machine to provide tapes to the bank for his business. When he developed macular degeneration in his 80s, Mother would read the numbers from the bank statement and the check book register. He'd balance the check book faster than she could using a calculator. Inherited none of his math brain nor any of my mother's bookkeeping intelligence. Thanks for this memory.

DeleteI wonder if the reason so many women do not do well in math is because girls aren't expected to, or at least they weren't when I was a blossoming lass. Today, if I were starting all over again in the educational system, I'd be tempted to major in math/physics/chemistry. But back it the day I too found it difficult, mostly because my highschool offered so little in the way of math and science. The first time I took chemistry I petitioned out of the class. It was incomprehensible. not to mention I had to work things out with a slide rule. When I signed up for it the second time I aced the course. I love all things math and science, adored statistics --thank god for that calculator with scientific notation -- and was a nurse before all those digitized pumps were invented, had to figure out rate and flow and concentration on every IV and then monitor them all for accuracy.

ReplyDeleteTo those of you who say you hate algebra and haven't used it since the last exam, I disagree. I think we all use it daily but never think in those terms. If you've ever adjusted a recipe for nine instead of four, ever converted foreign currency into dollars, every figured out how much potting soil you need for 13 pots of 9 different sizes, ever figured the tip on a check and then divided that up amongst the six women at the table, adjusting for the birthday girl whom you are all treating and subtracting that second bottle of wine that you drank all by yourself, not to mention another adjustment for the teetotaler who shouldn't have to pay for any one else to drink, you are a master of higher math!

I rest my case xox

I'm still stuck on the winsome mental image of you as a blossoming lass, Ann.

DeleteYou make an excellent point, Ann. If I had been taught chemistry in relation to the home ec (cooking) class I was taking at the same time, I'm sure I would have been better at both subjects!

DeleteAnn, you have a point. After all my years for struggling with algebra, and complaining a lot? Fate laughed.At work I used something from algebra every day for years and years. Venn diagram. I was a researcher, using pre-Netscape, pre-Internet electronic info systems (Dialog, Nexis, etc) It was Boolean logic all the way

DeleteWinsome smile directed to Gigi

DeleteRoguish grin directed back, Ann.

DeleteMy mother who was something of a rebel was particularly good at math. I think someone must have told her that girls are not as capable in what used to be called the hard sciences. She graduated high school a few years early and when she wanted to go for a BS she was told by a very good and reputable college that they didn't offer a BS to women only a BA. So she matriculated as a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering which they did permit women to take. After having myself and my brothers she went on to get a masters degree and did most of the work towards a PhD in what was then called "pure mathematics".

Delete"The Man Who Knew Infinity" is a frabjous film, on Prime or Netflix I think. Have a look,

ReplyDeletehttps://www.imdb.com/title/tt0787524/

Math, it is a subject to help you think outside the box . It is beauty all around. You use and don't realize it. Not gonna get on my soap box. I'm a college math professor !

ReplyDeletePam, I am totally with you. There are moments when I think oh! I see that! And it is a real flash of understanding. Then… It goes away :-)

DeleteYes, Hank, that was what would happen to me! I'd think I understood, and it was joyous--so that's how it works, all the pieces fit this way!!! Then, an hour later, gone. So frustrating.

DeleteAnd I am always trying to figure out ways to make it make sense, which take longer than they would if I just did it the right way. For instance, if you sell 23 books at $20 each how much money is that? I would think: well, five books is $100. So five into 23 is kind of like 25 minus 2. No, let’s just say five into 20 is four, that’s four hundred dollars. Plus 3×20 is 60. $460.

ReplyDeleteThen, I just asked Alexa, and she told me I was right. So I guess it works. Why didn’t I just ask her in the first place?

that's wonderful! I was grocery shopping the other day. I had $20 and the food I got had .99 or .69 at the end of each. For example, something would cost $5.69 and something would cost $1.99. I rounded each item to the dollar like $1.99 to $2 and $5.69 to $6 because the sales tax will be added to the total of what I bought. I remember thinking that $20 was just enough and after they added everything, including the sales tax, I got $3 dollars and some cents. I thought maybe I would get a few cents change. I was relieved that I did not have to pay more than $20.

DeletePERFECT! (and I do the round up thing all the time...)

DeleteHank, you totally confused me there!

DeleteIf they were $10, it would be $230, double that = $460. That's how I'd do it.

DeleteOr just two times 23 plus a zero!

DeleteI did not go to a rigorous high school, so I only had to pass one math class to graduate. They stuck me in Algebra I, I learned how to do the tricks to pass the tests, and promptly forgot the tricks as soon as the test was over. So I got an A, but still can't tell you what relevance it has to real life. I should have stuck around for geometry, though, because I'm a quilter, and I design my own patterns, so geometry would have come in handy.

ReplyDeleteAs for my worst subject? Duh! Phys ed. As a kinesthetic dyslexic, I can't tell right from left, and get completely freaked out mid-summersault because up from down? Nuh-uh. I'd lose track of myself in space. And it wasn't just basic PE that flummoxed me. The lowest grade I got in college was ballet. Physical coordination ≠ me.

Oh Gigi, I feel your pain. I'm not quite the same as you describe, but I have zero eye-hand coordination, so all the parts of PE that involved throwing or catching anything completely flummoxed me. As did handwriting, or any kind of drawing, or any kind of needlework, for that matter. I think it is a real improvement in the world that we have names for things like that now, so kids don't just feel hopeless, as I did and it sounds like you did.

DeleteI didn't discover the name for it until decades after I dropped out of band for lack of marching skills. It's not just that I get confused, it's like I feel my brain lock up and start shooting stray sparks.

DeleteI want to amplify Ann's comment about how we talk to ourselves about our math skills. I have always believed that I was terrible at math. The three calculus tutors I burned out in college would have agreed, perhaps with hand gestures and vigorous nodding of heads. I have discovered, however, that much of my "terribleness" at math was because I was defining MATH by specific calculation strategies rather than as a way to understand information - and getting panicked. I find myself encouraging everyone to look at Hans Rosling's work if they put their lives into "life" and "math" buckets. Once MATH became data or information or solving the question (dare I say mystery?) all was much better.

ReplyDeleteLysa, thanks for the mention of Hans Rosling. I looked him up and will try out his TED talks.

DeleteIn high school, it was geometry that I hated most, and I had a tutor so that I wouldn't lose my top spot in my class. It's funny to me that algebra and trigonometry weren't nearly as painful as geometry. In college, I had to take a Chemical Calculations course which proved to be no problem (pun intended) for me, which surprised me. But, I was sure that I hated math and never wanted to have anything more to do with it than absolutely necessary. Fast forward to after college and getting married and moving to my husband's town and working for their business. I ended up working in the office with, you guessed, accounting, and when the head bookkeeper quit, I was asked to step in. Say what? But, I did, and I actually grew to like balancing the books. We entered data onto forms which we took to a new computer company and got print outs. But, I knew how to do a P&L (Profit and Loss) statement, balancing my credits and debits. And, I had to do the sales tax report for the state each month and payroll and W-2s and so on. I did this work for about ten years or so. For the girl who pretty much didn't want anything to do with math after school, no one was more surprised than I was that life took me where it did. I do, though, still hate word problems and I have no interest in doing Suduko. My true love has always been English, with all that involves.

ReplyDeleteIn junior high and high school, I was in honors math until the math requirement was satisfied. I didn't know until years later that I'm numerically dyslexic. I would have enjoyed it more if I'd known, I think. (I'm also dyslexic with "b" and "p". Weird.)

ReplyDeleteI love learning. However, when I did my MBA, I had my first exposure to statistics. I cannot express how frustrating I find them though I can see their usefulness. No thank you. Not for me.

Debs, have you tried running ten miles while dropping an apple every three miles? How many apples were there before dropping the first apple?

ReplyDeleteI enjoyed reading everyone's stories. Like Rhys, I am a very visual person. I did better in geometry than in other advanced math classes. I had to take certain math classes to meet the requirement for admission to college, then once I got to college, I had to take pre-calculus class in order to meet the requirement for graduation!

Perhaps I mentioned that I had a wonderful elementary school teacher who was born in a country where they highly valued education. She expected more from us students that the usual teacher of special needs students. I remember she gave us all math workbooks to take home for the summer. I remember helping my mom fold laundry one day. My mom found the math workbook that I brought home. I had scrawled my crayon all over the workbook. I said that looks too hard. My Mom said "you need to give it a try". To my surprise, I did learn how to figure out the math in the workbook during the following school year. I think the point is that you do not know if you cannot do it unless you try it. It is funny that I did love math as a young child. I remember that when I was in another class years later, there were several classmates who were learning the times tables. For some strange reason, I was not learning the times tables. The teacher divided us into different groups. One group was learning the times tables. I was not. So I came home and asked my father to teach me the times table. That was so fun for me! The next year I had an excellent 5th grade teacher who loved science and would take our class to Lawrence Hall of Science once a week. She created math games where we could learn the times tables. My 6th grade teacher was encouraged us all to do well in all of our subjects, including math.

Unfortunately, when I started middle school, our math teacher did not know as much as I did. I think they misplaced me in the wrong class, when I look back.

By the time I started high school, I was not as good in math as I used to be. I think that it depends on the math teacher.

Reading about your experiences with math reminds me of a wonderful children's author. She was and still is an actress. She got her PhD in Math at UCLA while she took a break from acting. She wrote several children's books about math. I think the title is Ten Butterflies by Danica McKellar. She wrote several books about math for very young children, for tweens, and perhaps for high school students too.

I was pretty good at everything academically in elementary school. I loved sports when I was five years old. I started school just before I turned three. By the time I was eight years old, I was going to this school from hell and I HATED sports! The way sports was played was brutal! And no, we did not play football.

In middle school, sports was milder because I transferred to a different school. By the time I was in high school, I was ok with sports.

The pies story reminded me of when my cousin baked pies and worked with her children to teach them about fractions.

History was my favorite subject because it gave me the excuse to watch movies and to read Barbara Cartland novels.

Since my mom taught English, I grew up surrounded by books and I watched my mom correct homework when I was a kid. I still laugh when certain people express surprise that I have an excellent command of the English language because they think Deaf people cannot read and write in the English language. In my case, that is not true. I remember my mom correcting my grammar when I wrote letters to my grandfather, to my Uncle and cousins. I thought that was a given. Never bothered me. Now I automatically edit when I write.

Great post!

Yes, of COURSE pies can teach about fractions. Why don't they DOOOO that?

DeleteGood question.

DeleteAh, Reds, you wound me with your collective dislike of chemistry (I have a PhD in chemistry and teach high school chemistry). That said, I only took the minimum amount of math that was required, stopping after calculus.

ReplyDeleteThis comment has been removed by the author.

DeleteWe LOVE chemistry. We just can't explain it on paper. Plus, I know It's exactly like cooking. (We watched Breaking Bad, too , right? Science! ) It's just when you have to figure it out with numbers instead of instinct. Hmm. Baking is math. It has to be exact or it fails. Other kinds of cooking use experience and experimentation within rules. Hmm.

Deletecooking involves some chemistry, right?

DeleteExactly, exactly, that's what I mean!

DeleteYes, cooking! Not just home cooking, but with all the research I've been doing about professional cooking, I've learned that chefs have to be very good at math. Maybe I should amend that to "successful chefs." It's not just the math involved in creating individual recipes (which must be repeatable) and figuring out how much of something you must make for x number of plates, but you have to figure your costs--kitchens that waste food or don't buy efficiently don't make money. AND all professional chefs use metric, by the way, for those of us that are still struggling with conversions... Now, I just ask Alexa, lol.

ReplyDeleteYip.

DeleteI hated math! In 1969, I was thrown into New Math. The "teacher" passed out the books and said do the first 5 pages and then sat down and read the newspaper. The following day he would go up the aisles and look at our papers. This was everyday. How I got A's and B's is beyond me. I never even tried algebra., Then when my son came along and needed help in 2004, all I can say is Lord help me! What happened to simple add, subtract, multiply, and divide? One symbol I just called the "flower"! He took after his mother and loved English needless to say.

ReplyDeleteOne more soap box thing. Girls are still told that they can't be good at math and science. I think girls do as well as boys in elementary school, then the decline starts in middle school. Even now, I'm not sure if part of my problems in middle school algebra stemmed from being told I was stupid by my teachers. Ouch.

ReplyDeleteIn my case, I think it had more to do with WHO was the teacher. Unfortunately, my progress in math was set back in middle school because I was thrown in a remedial class because the school counselor really thought Deaf students were STUPID! Deaf boys were thrown into remedial classes, even remedial math. It was the prejudice against deaf people, I am sorry to say.

DeleteDiana

And when I was in high school, I was thrown into advanced math classes with super smart students because I was on that path before middle school. Every day during lunch hours, I saw my math teachers for tutorials so I could pass their classes!

DeleteI was very fortunate that my math teachers (all women) were willing to take the time to help me!

DeleteWords and numbers do not belong together? But I'm an accountant that loves to read! ;)

ReplyDeleteMath was okay, but accounting is much easier than math ever was in school.

My least favorite was always science. Didn't matter what it was, I just didn't care. Except for Astronomy. Love astronomy. I took an astronomy lab for my lab science in college. It was truly a crime to stay out looking at stars and get an A for it.

Accounting math is different from scientific math, right?

DeleteYes. I add, subtract, multiple, and divide. Some percentages, but that's about it.

DeleteMath was not my favorite but it did not scare me. I found algebra useful; everyone needs to find x at some time and equations smooth the way. Geometry was another issue. I memorized the theorems but I didn't understand how to use them. I was absolutely mortified when Mom took me to a tutor. But it worked. I didn't really get trig either but figured out you really did have to memorize all those stupid relationships. I hated taking foreign languages. I was awful at it. I could either work on the accent or work on constructing the sentence I was trying to say. But not both at the same time. Remember Peggy Hill, the substitute Spanish teacher on King of the Hill? Her accent is as bad as mine. The class I had to take, courtesy of my mother, that I absolutely hated was home economics in 9th grade. What a waste of time. The teacher was a total waste of space. Awful, awful, awful.

ReplyDeleteDefinitely math!! I still have not had to use a word problem about people traveling in opposite directions in kayaks at different speeds. Or, picture this: "Hi Celia, how old is your daughter now?" "Well, 6 months ago she was 3 years older than I was when I was 4 years younger than you are right now." Oh brother! I actually didn't mind geometry though, because you had to prove your theories. It took a lot of memorization, but you could always tell if you had solved the problem correctly.

ReplyDeleteNot a math brain here. Is that brain right side vs. left side? I'm fine with English, history, art, philosophy and that sort of thing, but math? No. My mother had to help me with the times tables, at home with flash cards. I hated it and never really learned them, so I use the same kind of work-around many have describe here: something times something (that I know) plus an extra something.

ReplyDeleteOne look at the Periodic Table on the wall of the Chemistry classroom, and I wished I was somewhere - anywhere - else. I managed a C-. I liked Algebra, Geometry (visual person) and Algebra II, but when I got to college Trig it was lights out. I had really wanted to be an architect, had worked in an architect's office doing drawings, etc. But the major required structural engineering, and I couldn't do the math. In Real Life, architects hire out the engineering, but that was irrelevant in college. So I became an English major.

I remember the Periodic Table poster in my room when I was growing up.

ReplyDeleteLOVE. Whatever it means...xoo

Deletexoxo

DeleteI feel your pain, Jenn! I hated Algebra and Chemistry. Basic math and geometry were okay but Algebra was Greek to me. (See what I did there? LOL) Ditto for anything math-related like Chemistry and Physics. I loved literature and writing, choir, and theatre.

ReplyDeleteI always said I'd never use Algebra in real life, but a few years ago I finally did. I was showing my college students how to punctuate a quote-within-a-quote ("You know 'like this'"). As I was explaining that you need to end put both the single quote and the double quote marks on the right to end each quote I said something like "everything you do to one side, you have to do to the other side." The lightbulb went off, albeit DECADES after high school Algebra, and I said "OMG, I finally used Algebra in real life!" I don't know who was more amused, me or my students. LOL But I still hate Algebra.

All the comments add up to one answer: math and arithmetic are two different things.

ReplyDeleteI am brilliant at arithmetic; I can add, subtract, multiply and divide and amount of numbers accurately. Math is not the same thing at all.

I used to share booth space at consumer shows with my friend Karen, who invented a brilliant method of drafting clothing patterns for individuals. I could never catch on to how it worked, but I had to do all our joint bookkeeping because Karen could not manage the sales records to save her life.

That experience was eye-opening to us both. Between us we raised eight children, and knowing how differently we thought about numbers helped us understand better how to teach our kids.

True that math and arithmetic are two different things!

DeleteI forgot to mention earlier that my mother was the first woman math major graduate at Stanford University.

ReplyDeleteThat's fantastic, Rick!

DeleteI wasn't fond of math like fractions or decimals and always had the habit of forgetting a step on the times table and having to go to the next number and add or subtract. I had A's in algebra and trigonometry. I remember doing a complicated algebra problem and getting 3 points taken off for wrong addition or subtraction. My last math class was 1969 but I do balance my checkbooks.

ReplyDeleteI think my history teachers were good or OK but I got my love of history from reading historical fiction and biographies with my parents.

College Algebra was not my thing. Can't the answer to the question be purple. I excelled at History and English. I went to a vocational high school and took secretarial studies. I know every reason for punctuation and can still write in shorthand. Which comes in handy at meetings where coworkers keep looking at my notebook.

ReplyDeleteI always hated math, until my twins needed help with fractions in the fourth grade. I took a course, had a fabulous teacher, and boy, did that ever come in handy in the nursing program! I never missed a math problem!

ReplyDeleteThat teacher made all the difference.

Oh, and my twins got through it.

Ok, I am going into teacher mode so please forgive me. We do all have courses that are easier for us or harder for us. One of the things that we do not want to do is disrespect our abilities and gifts. When we decide that we can't do this, we set ourselves up for a self fulfilling prophecy. The first obstacle in helping students learn is getting over the "I hate it, and I can't do it." Also children will emulate their parents views on different school subjects.

ReplyDelete