I have a confession to make: I don’t do math.
I’m sure you’ve figured this out since observing that I am most obviously an English major through the content of my posts. However, for too, too long, I have been using the “Herr derrr English major” excuse for letting my math skills fall into shambles. I took College Algebra freshman year and worked my tail off for the A that I received. Not to be the town-crier for my own study habits, that is also with missing a week of school and two quizzes I couldn’t make up.
However, I am not that awesome at math anymore. In fact, the most mental exchange I have in the mathematics field is whenever I count back change at Chick-Fil-A. After a few embarrassing instances of counting back change at CFA, I am really sick and tired of letting my laziness and excuses hold me back.
So I have decided that I am going to teach myself math.
It’s been nice, also, to be encouraged by my math-major friends, who are willing to teach me Calculus when I get good enough and who will put up with my questions of “So eight plus five is thirteen, right?” (In my head just now, I double checked myself out of uncertainty, still. Force of habit)
I have begun to supplement my education by doing lessons on the glorious website Khan Academy. If you haven’t visited that site, you are really doing yourself a disservice. You can learn almost anything (almost, that is–not a lot of the Humanities field on there outside of Art History) and it is free. You watch videos, then you can do interactive workbooks that give you points and achievements if you do them correctly. The mathematics instructor for this videos–Sal–is perfect. He isn’t patronizing. He isn’t condescending. He isn’t irritated when explaining the beyond basic fundamentals that I’m sure his big brain has left behind in the dust.
I shouldn’t knock those fundamentals, though. It was the lack of knowing the fundamentals that crippled my math journey through high school and gave me the most severe math anxiety known to man. Well, hey, at least I’m not getting panic attacks about math anymore. In almost every class I have ever had where math was a struggle, it would not be because I didn’t understand the concepts presented or the laws or forget how to do a problem, it would because I would flub and say that seventeen minus six is eight, not nine. Harkens back to Trig class, and luckily this wasn’t me, but when one of my classmates messed up on some Trigonometric function, my teacher would yell “There is no inverse property of negative one!”
So far, through the site, I am getting better at my mental math. Sal taught this really great way to do large subtraction problems in your head (borrowing and all) really quickly. I feel enlightened. I’ve missed feeling smart in this regard. It is a different kind of thinking than all the subjective interpretation that I have become accustomed to in my English classes.
Not saying that subjective, grey interpretation is bad, but sometime it is nice having definite answers in your life. I think I’m starting to figure those out.