Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Blogging Challenge - My Life as a Mathematician
My happy go lucky math life completely changed when I got to the tenth grade. Algebra II! Binomials, conjugates and logarithms - oh my! I had the worst experience. I didn't get it and my teacher didn't help me - I made the first and only F ever on my report card that year. :( At the end of that year I closed the book on Math and made sure I never took another Math class until college. I only took one then because I had to. That professor was slightly more helpful but I really only made it through because of the outstanding tutor I found who could actually explain the concepts to me in a way I could understand. I've worked hard as an adult to improve my mathematical skills and understanding.
As my own daughter came through elementary school completely immersed in a conceptually based math curriculum I began to realize why I did okay early on but struggled as the Math got more complex. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing - what the Math really meant. As long as I could memorize the facts or repeat the same steps over and over to solve the problems I had it made. My daughter understands why the Math works and knows many ways to solve any problem she encounters. I've learned a lot from helping her her over the years and I still learn something about why Math works with every lesson I observe. If I had been taught the way she was there is no telling how far I would have gotten in the study of Mathematics.
I have always been able to just see patterns and sequences. Timing, schedules and organizing data are easy for me and I use Math almost every day to do my job. I calculate percents and averages, generate complex schedules, analyze and create data, and efficiently manage a large budget. I view each task as a personal challenge and every time I approach a problem these days that requires me to think mathematically, I feel encouraged and accomplished. Conquering something that hasn't always been easy makes you feel pretty great! Effort + Determination = Skill