Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A little out of control.

There aren't enough words in the English language to describe how much I loathe, hate, despise, dislike etc math. I have managed 1/2 a century without being able to add fractions & I'm sure I could manage another 1/2 century with no trouble at all. Math bores me. The brain shuts down, numbers turn foggy & waft away into the stratasphere, & sequences elude me so I should not be surprised that my daughter suffers the same illness.

Worse, I have no good answer as to why she needs to know this stuff. Why indeed? She won't ever use it again. We have a system that works for us when it comes to practical math ~ the math you need to get you round the supermarket without embarrassment or bake that special cake or get you around Europe on $20~ a day. Actually I haven't tried that one but I'm sure it can be done if you don't eat.

So I was very interested to read an article stating they've been teaching math wrong for all these years. (Really?! Who would ever have guessed that?) No, truely. The mind is hard wired for math without any need for language or *mathamatical terminology*. Which explains the visual *flashes* my Ditz & I get wherin we can come up with a correct answer & no idea of how we got there. For non~sequential thinkers (believe me it's a pain in a sequential world!) there really does need to be another way.

No, we have not been having a fun time with Ditz's math & Ditz, who has matured so much this year & happily works alone for History & English & Science, will not look at her math, will not open the book let alone attempt a sum unless I am right there to hold her hand every step of the way! She does not see why she should suffer the vagaries of math we both suffer.

Along with math, which is enough to send me stark raving mad & rampaging over the island like a wounded bull, Ditz's flute exams now loom uncomfortably close on the horizon. I am in full blown panic mode. They are nearly double what I was anticipating cost~wise & only get more expensive each grade. They are in town ~ which means I have to find the place, which means public transport, which means leaving the island at unearthly hours ,which means waking Ditz ,which means one tired cranky Ditz to sit her exam...This is not a pretty picture. There is more but that is enough for now.
I do enjoy my life...It's just, you know, a little out of control at times...& just now is one of those times.


The HoJo's said...

I remember a heated discussion with a maths teacher at 'o' level (that dates me) no one uses quadratics blah blah. I now know one person who uses them every day. He has a natural ability with maths and was always going to do something like that. As for the rest of us, if we can survive in the modern world, like you say, coping with a budget, staying out of debt, understanding that interest compounds, useful things which don't appear to be maths, those are the things we need to equip us for life. Simple fractions are in our everyday life, otherwise we wouldn't be able to feed our families, but it isn't presented to us as a sum, it is just life, and that is why may brain copes with it.
Gosh that is longer than it needed to be.

molytail said...

Math and I are not the best of friends either. Particularly at the moment, as I hem and haw and try to sort out Cindy's math for this coming year...we were able to borrow the MUS (delta & epsilon levels) to have a look-see and try it out - Cindy was intrigued at first, with the idea of the dvd and all, but it VERY quickly wore thin. She says the guy is as exciting as watching mud dry and the books are "dull" -- I have to admit, she's right! LOL .... We did get our hands on those blocks though - and boy, what a difference they made in getting the child to truly understand what borrowing & carrying are all about. She'd learned it before, but because she didn't really get it, she rarely did it correctly. Sure, borrow & carry is lower level stuff, but when I see the lights go on, I don't care about levels. ;-)

The MUS is heading back to its owner, while we rummage for something else. I've got the abeka arithmetic 5 here from someone, to have a peek at it and see how we feel about theirs - she didn't have the 6, which I wish I could see, but the 5 gives me a good idea of how it flows along and such...Cindy looked and she says she likes the "look of it" (colourful - very visually appealing) far, I like...we may be ordering the 6...but it sucks because it has to come from the states and shipping it costly...something like 25% of the order, ugh.

We'd had a peek at an older edition of Saxon 5/4 to see how that worked - she didn't care for it. Dull, plain, boring -- can you tell that visual appeal is important to her? Crazy, but it really does make a difference.

I totally get you on the out of control times - transatlantic hugs coming your way! <3

(ha, it took me three tries to get 'transatlantic' typed right LOL)

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with the 'hard wiring' for maths theory, based on purely anecdotal evidence :-) ie me and my mother. She had terrific mental arithmetic capabilities in her day, though probably would have looked blank if you'd mentioned calculus. Me too -- I failed higher maths quite spectacularly the one year I took it, mainly because I couldn't show how I'd derived my (always correct) answers in trigonometry, mainly because I didn't _know_ how I'd done it -- I simply looked at the diagram and worked out the answer in my head. I then spent the next 3 years being bored silly in the lower maths class. There was definitely a 'maths gene' in my family, but somewhere along the way environmental factors intervened. There was a theory 20 or so years ago about girls and puberty, but I'm inclined to agree that it may have more to do with the way maths is taught.

Oh, and I did go on to (try to) learn something more mystifying than maths -- computer programming. Thank tha may be one of the things that maths is useful for...


Sherri said...

In college Math, I would zone out in the classroom, then go home and teach it to myself. I just couldn't grasp how he would go around the world to teach a concept that I could just learn the procedure and not the why's! I so understand!

MamaOlive said...

I always preferred to do math in my head. My dad, on the other hand, is one of those who likes to trudge through.
At least adding fractions makes sense. Multiplying and dividing fractions, though easier to work, don't make any sense to me. "Turn the second fraction upside down; multiply across the top and across the bottom." - what does that tell me about the actual numbers represented?

You can make it!