My Life as a Mathematician

Photo by DaveKav on flickr
To be completely honest, math was not my best subject in school.  I managed through high school because I was a good student and I had a teacher that was willing to give extra time and help me, but in college it was another story.  I took College Algebra my first semester and failed it.  Waited another year and then failed it again.  I finally ended up taking it my last semester of school (for the fourth time) and passing it with a C.  Tutoring made only a marginal difference.  I finally passed and understood what I was doing when I had a teacher that really taught me the how and why of algebra. She cared about whether I understood the material or not.  She made me feel like it was okay to ask questions.  I have never been more excited in my life to receive a C! 

Today I know that my foundational problem was number sense.  I am not able to figure sums in my head with confidence, or estimate reasonably.  Directions, distance and elapsed time take me twice as long as others.  I am beyond thrilled that I can calculate tip percentages and sale prices on my iphone.  (I used to use a piece of paper.) And yet, the holes in my math knowledge continue to haunt me. 

My 14 year old daughter struggles with math more than I did at her age.  This year, she is taking Algebra for the first time.  My life as a mathematician now has become...relearning Algebra!  But there is a big difference between then and now. 

Now, I'm not alone.

I have sent messages out on twitter to get help from my PLN and immediately had some great resources and tutorials that helped us struggle through her homework assignments.  And thankfully, her teacher has agreed to hold morning tutoring sessions this year.  This has made a big difference in my daughter's comfort in asking questions and getting help in class.  She now spends most of our evening homework time teaching me. 

So my life as a mathematician is all about learning right now.  So maybe I won't have to use my iphone apps to "figure" everything out all the time anymore. 


Girlfriend...I share your pain.

I think the reason your post is so inspiring is that regardless of whatever problems you had to overcome in Math, it hasn't stopped you from dreaming big! Whether its with technology, with photography, or teaching children from gifted to strugglers, Math has never stood in your way when you had a goal to accomplish! that's such a great lesson for all of our children!

mmkrill said...

Directions and distance are two concepts I struggle with also. Those didn't come to mind when I wrote my math post (, as I guess I have come to terms with my weakness in those areas.

We are only at math facts at my house, but I am pushing number sense and reasoning, in the hopes that when Algebra arrives - they will not need me. Plus, my husband is strong in the areas in which I am weak. Lucky for me - and them!