Sunday, September 09, 2007

The First Step is 90% of the Way Done

For years I postponed taking math. Math was not hard for me, but it was tedious. When I started college back in the early 90's, I tried it, but I had a sick child. You know, you can make up a history class and even a clinical psych class if you miss three weeks, but you cannot make up math! I failed stats three times because I just couldn't keep up.

I had thought that I was not good at it and even fell into "math anxiety" excuses with fellow social work students. The funny thing was, my dad, before he went into horses, built houses. I could talk to a client on the phone and figure out square footage, costs and reductions and come extremely close to the correct figures. I did not have an issue with applied math. I did it if I needed to. I was 15! In high school it was another issue-- my dad could not explain algebra for me. We fought over dinner about my grades when I just wasn't getting it. We had housekeepers and five cars (they'd not let me drive-- it's explained in another post) and they'd not spring for a tutor for me. (My own kids get mandatory tutors when their grades dip below a mid C.)

Fast forward 23 years, and I took the mandatory math test to determine my placement. I tested into the lowest math class and decided to take it through correspondence because it was while sitting in the room taking the test that I was like, "Peaches got mono when this was being discussed and I'd had to drop the class--" I suddenly didn't feel like an ignoramus. It wasn't anxiety, I just wasn't able to keep up when I had to miss classes. Just how on Earth did I get through that period of my life? I am not feeling sorry for myself-- I am amazed because little memories come back to me from time to time and I don't know how I kept going. I have insisted that my own children take math and science classes in high school, "Either do it now when it's mandated and paid for in the school budget or pay for it yourself in college." My eldest tested out of college algebra and is in some calc class. VICTORY for me! My husband says that if I want to, he thinks that I will be able to do applied calculus if I set my mind to it, but I just want to get through this semester first.

I just did my first two lessons. This is embarrassingly easy stuff, but I can do one or two lessons each week and get through this. I know I can do it and I will pass this class, and I will pass the class after this and the class after than and finally. . . college algebra. Then I will go back to the crazy prof who I loved but failed stats with the first three times and get it right and that will be the semester that I graduate-- God willing. I will get A's, too.

I am also taking Linguistics and magazine article writing. I love them both. I debated in high school and I was taught to look at both sides of an argument and be able to argue both sides convincingly, so writing is easy. Linguistics is also fun because it is part of what makes us human. We are learning about universals in languages right now and of course this clicks in with my Russian. My only wish about this is that they related to more to the languages that college students seem more likely to study like Russian, French, German, Japanese, etc, in addition to Zulu and Twi.

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