Confession: I suck at math. Really suck. Somehow I’ve gotten through life and gotten a college degree without officially taking algebra. Some concepts of algebra may have been covered during that remedial math class I had to take before taking “Math for Elementary Ed Majors”, but algebra has never graced my transcript. (And yes, “Math for Elementary Ed Majors” did feel a bit like code for “Math for Stupid People” and yes we were all insulted by it.)
So I decided to fix my deficiency. The Calculus teacher at my school agreed to help me out. Poor guy. So we get rolling and he gives me my first set of homework problems. I’m feeling pretty good and he gives me a second. And there are fractions…multiplication and division of fractions.
I panicked. I don’t even remember how to add and subtract them! (See “I suck at math” above.) So I pulled out an old 6th grade math textbook and got to work. (I have no idea why I even have a 6th grade math book.)
I guess I don’t really hate math, but now that I’m going back and trying to make up for my deficiency I’m starting to see where all my confidence issues may have started and where I got lost.
I’ll submit as evidence this picture:
See that last problem? 399 over 32??? Ugly. Just not pretty. I was clicking along feeling pretty good about myself and then I started getting answers like 156 over 63 and 399 over 32. It just seems wrong to start a kid off with all these even numbers that simplify like a dream and then throw that crap at them. No wonder I started thinking I sucked at math. These were not easily simplified and who the hell ever uses fractions like that? I must have it all wrong, right? (And I probably do.)
But I’m not giving up. When I’m done with 6th grade math I’m going for the gold with Algebra and Geometry. I’ve got my books ready!