Friday, February 12, 2010

Me, Myself & Math

The other day I was thinking about how much easier my academic life would be if I just got over my issues with math. I mean really. Contrary to what some may say, it's not a matter of just buckling down and doing problems over and over until you get it. It's a lot more complicated than that. I can actually remember when the problems first started.

It was 7th grade. A new accelerated math program was being introduced at the school and some of us in the "top" class were put in the program. We were going to be introduced to pre-algebra. The thing about this section, that I can't remember I even knew at the time, was that it was a temporary placement. Whether or not you were kept there would depend on how well and how quickly you adjusted to the new material. After I don't know how many weeks, some got to stay in the accelerated program, while the rest of us shamefully had to return to the "regular" math class. To make matters worst, some of my closest friends stayed in the "accelerated" group and to top it off...the "regular" math teacher stunk. Needless to say, I felt really crappy and from that point on math and I never saw eye to eye again.

Until 7th grade, math was just another subject in school. Over all I was a pretty good student but I was never very motivated (except in 4th grade). I was never one of those kids who could do crazy calculations in their heads but then again my English was not that awesome either. The difference though, is that my Language Arts skills (or lack of) never made me feel inferior or incapable. I always felt that I could do better if I just tried harder. When I tried, this truth held true for every subject...except math. It seemed like I had a constant mathematician's block.

Whenever I was presented with new material I had this queasy feeling. The kind you get when you know inevitable failure awaits. I felt that no matter how much I tried, I'd never really get it. This of course, became a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I felt this way, the less motivated I became to really try and when I did try I was too nervous to really absorb. Add to that the fact that math builds upon itself....not having the basic stuff down only crippled me.

I went to a magnet school and in the high school placement test I scored high enough to qualify for another "accelerated" math program. This time I would be taking algebra & geometry my freshmen year, and if I did well, I would catch up with my friends & be in their "section". So yeah, freshmen year was a lonely one for me, as I only had French class with the group of kids I graduated 8th grade with. Thankfully I did well and was back with my group sophomore year.

It's amazing how impressionable our minds can be! You would think that taking two math classes at the same time and doing well would be enough to dispel my inferiority complex. But no. The damage had already been done. That is the damage that I know have to deal with if I am not to let it be a deterrent to my academic/professional success. Basically, I have to find a way to conquer math.


Crissy K said...

It's kind of creepy how this is the exact same way math and I became enemies. Only my breakup was in 9th grade and we had to take an exam where the worst students were plucked out. So needless to say everyone knew "we" had failed the test. One girl was marched out dripping in tears and with deep heart wrenching sobs. I'll never forget it.

Crissy K said...
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