Monday, August 28, 2006

Thank God for Calculators

I've never liked math--even a little bit. It still cracks me up that my math teachers used to expound on the necessity of math. Now, I'm not talking about simple math. I have had occasion to add, subtract, multiply or divide. And yes, I know fractions are used when baking a cake. And I'm really good at percentages, especially when shopping. I never as of yet have found any use at all for algebra.

Why do I even care to write about this? This semester I have found myself in an Algebra class. Joy of all Joys. Now mind you that my academic advisor never told me that you had to have taken high school level algebra (and passed it). So I go to this class nervous anyway because I did take algebra in high school. I failed it. I still remember the class with anger. I was fifteen (sixteen years ago) and totally lost. Everything that my teacher spoke of sounded like Swahili. I decided to go to said teacher and just see if I could get some help. She proceeded to yell at me and say that if I did my homework I would understand it. I attempted to point out that I would do my homework if I knew how. I then received a lecture about being lazy. I wasn't lazy, I was just not math-inclined and completely lost. I never did another problem in that class. I never turned in an assignment, and I signed my name to the top of the tests as soon as they were given to me and immediately handed them back to her--blank. I hated that teacher.

So I get to relive the humiliation at the age of thirty-one. Great! The day of class I had to beat traffic from work (fun times!) race to the classroom which was heated to about 112 degrees, and find a place to sit. my eyes roamed the room. It was a sea of eighteen year old children (I say children, because they still look that way to me). They have the look that all freshmen carry with them. The wide-eyed fish out of water look. They are also wearing very new sneakers, jeans, and the girls actually wear makeup. I take a seat against a wall and attempt to blend in. I am fairly successful at this today, because there are actually four other students in the class that are older than I am. This makes me in turn seem younger.

Now for those of you who have not ever been in this environment, the first day of class in college is like the first day at school when you are a kid. The teacher basically goes over what they expect from you and tell you a little about themselves. I have a theory that this is because they don't like having to teach anymore than we like having to learn on the first day.

Algebra class was another story. This guy was hard core. It took him exactly six minutes to go through the above routine, followed by an hour and twenty minutes of actual learning. We went over the end of the class time by six minutes. I took six pages of notes that first day, my hand flying across the page because this man writes and erases faster than Dennis Rodman changes hair colors. I of course, under stand nothing. And was given 122 problems to have done before the next class.

My question is, why is this class required if you are not a math or science major? I have used algebra 0--count it--0 times in the thirteen years since high school. And once I finally graduate, I will use it 0 more times. Go figure.


Brown Family said...

Good Luck...I concur about using Algebra...20 years since HS and I still don't use it. Trying to teach it though, since the girls are learning it in their homeschooling lessons. I go more gray everyday thinking about it. Anyway...hope all is well with you. And how is Chet by the way? Never hear from him anymore. Keep us posted.


Anonymous said...

4x + 5 = 25


Don't ask me to "show the work."
I don't remember how.