Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Call Me Ed. Special Ed.

Evan and I have something in common. We both hate MATH. We both can do rather well at it, but hate it nonetheless. I was just about to blog about my calculus experience today. My innocent little boy is sitting beside me at my desk, working on his math homework and muttering of his dislike for the subject and it hit me that it is precisely what I am going to tell you. Evan is not Special Ed. I, however, most definitely am.

I love a good challenge. But, while it seems completely snotty to say, I have never failed at anything. Give me chemistry and biology and physics. Bring it on. Math? While I do okay, I do have to work at it just a bit. I don't like that. I like it when things are so easy for me I can do them in my sleep.

So I have this calculus assignment. There are only 3 questions, but these are the types of problems that take 30 minutes and about 5 sheets of scratch paper to complete, so it is more than it seems. I am armed with my pink calculator (see the pic, it is too cute and just screams ANDREA!) It is early in the morning, and thus quiet in the house. I am ready. And I get every damned one of the problems wrong. This is for two reasons (actually more, but I am getting to that): A) I cannot work my cute pink calculator I bought specifically for this class. B) I didn't convert my answers back to fractions, and left them in decimal form, which was not how they wanted to answers to be formatted.
Truthfully? Math psychs me out a bit. I know I have to work at it a little more than I do the sciences, and therefore it fills me with terror. I could make some huge political statement about this, if I were the type. I am a woman and society has programmed me to believe that I am inferior to men in the arenas of math and science. I won't do that. That is utter bullshit. I am a woman, and I will kick ass in science any day of the week. Math? Not so much.

So I go to my Calculus lecture this morning, ready to talk to my professor about this issue with the homework. I am armed, ready for him to tell me that I am semi-retarded and do not belong in a Calculus course. That there is some sort of Fundamentals of Addition course that is more my speed. 1 + 1=2 sort of thing.
He tells me to meet him in his office after class.
I do.

I get there, and I sit down across the table from him and pull out a fresh sheet of paper. He gives me a sample problem. I do it. After every step or so, he stops me to check my calculations. I was right.

He gives me another sample problem. I do that one too. I am right again.

He continues to tell me that I am smart. That I am much better off than my classmates. That I need patience. That if I can do chemistry with such ease, then I can do the math. Since I consider myself a science geek, he reminds me that math is a science. That I am a whiz at the sciences, and therefore a math whiz too. He completely gets in my head. The man is brilliant.

Calculus is no longer my kryptonite.

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