Thursday, June 4, 2009

Can I just say algebra sucks?

I scored a 72 on my first algebra test. I thought I aced the freaking thing. I totally thought I was doing the problems correctly.

I scored a 72, mind you:
After 5 hours of tutoring.
After 30 hours of homework.

I'm totally doubting I can do this.

I failed algebra in high school. I wanted to be a biologist, and after I failed they told me to pick something else- look where that got me. Laid off in a dying field, that's where.

And today looking at my blasted 72, it's like I'm 13 all over again, crying at my desk- though today I had the wherewithal to leave the room to cry. I just feel like the dumbest girl ever.

Maybe I truly, deeply don't have the aptitude for this. We all can't have the aptitude for everything, after all.

Just, why did my aptitude have to be for-- oh, I don't know-- making butter?

I really am not looking for sympathy. But the thing is, I have to get all the way through calculus. This new path of mine is feeling terribly unlikely right now.

16 comments:

Mom said...

Hi there...love your blog! Don't give up on the algebra - you can do it. What problems did you get wrong?

Rabbits' Guy said...

Absolutely ... stay with it a bit. You are rusty and have a bit of a pshyc block on Algebra no doubt. Sometimes comes a breakthrough!

And oh, your cute problem is really one of logic, not mathematics and the logic solution is not the same!

And finally ... I bet we are all SO glad it's you and not us! Most of us would duck for cover ...

Brian said...

I know exactly how you feel, but for me it was Algebra II that got me. I made B's and A's in Algebra I, but for whatever reason couldn't "get" the concepts in the more advanced problems. The teacher passed me with a C, just so I could move on. I made 50's on most of the tests, but I worked every problem and really put in an effort.

They told me to stick with English and that I didn't have an aptitude for advanced math, which for a young kid became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Guess what I do for a living now? Financial analysis and accounting. And, I've aced every statistics course I've ever taken.

Sometimes you know more than you think you do. You just need a bit of confidence. Hang in there. I think the light bulb will shine a little brighter for you real soon.

PJ said...

You're really brave and I think you're going to make it. Sometimes it's a matter of learning how to take the tests, at least for me it is. And you know we love you no matter wot, right?

Jacob said...

You can do it. From one non-math person to another. I somehow found a way to pass (once, somehow) and I get to figure it out all over again soon.

And if that doesn't help, you can always use the words of Jimmy Buffett......."math sucks"

Kateri said...

Can you switch teachers? I had one algebra instructor who's method of teaching didn't work for me at all. I'd ask questions and her explanations made me even more confused. With a different teacher it all seemed so logical and simple and I aced the class with 99% and 100% on every test. The instructor even told me, forget about being a nurse, you should be doctor. I just looked at him and thought...you don't have a clue...LOL. Trust me, math is NOT my strong point and I promptly forgot everything I learned the day after the class was over. Math just does not stick in my brain. In my opinion it is all about the instructor.

d. moll, l.ac. said...

How often will you actually be using math in your new career? Any math you need you will become good at. All you need to do is pass the classes. I took my State boards 3 times before I passed because I had unrecognized dyslexia. Once I realized the problem (and forgave myself for failing) I was able to revise better strategies and I passed with a 89%. You can still do this thing.

chaiselongue said...

I think 72 sound pretty good - isn't that a pass even if it's not 100%? Keep at it. And anyway the sweet pea looks beautiful!

agreenfire said...

I think you did really well considering how long it has been since you've had a math class. Math is one of those things that takes a lot of work. Hang in there, I really think you will pass.

Friend of the Animals said...

So what if you don't get a perfect score every time. You have lots of other classes to take and they will probably be easier to get through. Don't give up just because of one crummy subject.

MOTM said...

Oh my goodness, I failed high school algebra, too! I feel for you, because I would be in the same boat, assuming I did terrific, only to be horrendously surprised. But you know what, math sucks! Stick it to math and kick its butt next time. You can do it!

eatclosetohome said...

I'm decent at algebra - though it's been a while since I've used it - and I'm told I have a knack for explaining things in ways folks can understand. Study date in the garden sometime?

Meredith said...

I have two thoughts (based on a bunch of experience helping folks find their way through math when it hasn't come easily).

The first echoes Kateri's observation about teachers. Even if you can't get a different teacher for the class, it may be worth asking around after and trying out a bunch of tutors. There are often folks who will do it for free or not much, particularly if they love math. There are compatibility issues with teaching math - if someone can really get how you think, they'll be able to open the door for you. If they can't, they'll likely not and it'll seem like there's something wrong with your brain, which there's NOT. The work you write about here on your blog involves so much mathematical thinking which, if you're struggling with algebra, isn't being applied effectively. There are people who can help turn that around.

Thought number two. You may have done closer to how you thought you did (aced) than your 72 seems to suggest. You may well have understood all the procedures, etc., but made some anxiety-induced errors along the way. Or maybe you understood MOST or SOME of them, and also made some anxiety-induced errors along the way. It's so easy to go tumbling down into the 70s without so much as a single bit of missing understanding.

Algebra's got a bad reputation thanks to a bunch of missing pieces in the way it's handed down, but it's possible to make peace and even friends with it.

One other thing - there's a book called Elementary Algebra by a guy named Harold Jacobs who wanted people to like it. It's replete with explanations that ground everything in the actual world (including one of the only examples I've ever seen that makes it possible to stomach the notion that raising any number to the zero gives you one). He also uses lots of visual stuff that is helpful for many.

Wait. One more thing. Somewhere along the line many of us got the message that math doesn't involve creativity, but if you can go at it (the managing of the whole algebra through calculus challenge as well as the little problems themselves) with the same problem-solvy approach you use on your plants and other food projects, you may be surprised at what it opens up!

Donna said...

Survival is winning sometimes. I miss you, but I am so in awe of your eco-knowledge. That doesn't depend on algebra. This must be a character building exercise to keep you humble I guess. You have a gift!! So believe your own press. I do! Get back on the horse if you fall off. Squeak by if you have too. It's perfectly okay.

Amanda Moran said...

I too struggled with math---long division got me and then algebra! I would also agree about the teacher though. Don't you dare give up, we all think you are smart enough, you just need to convince yourself.

Howard said...

Don't sweat the little stuff. You're a wonderfully interesting person (just discovered your blog today), you write very well, and well, heck, you make pickles! =)

Leave the algebra for the dry and boring (but oh so important!) engineers and scientists...