I’m not entirely sure why I gave up on math. I wasn’t terrible at it, but it always stressed me out. In 6th grade, I had a crazy disciplinarian of a teacher. Talking in his class was entirely forbidden–always–unless answering a question. When he approached the classroom entrance in the morning, we were to line up in an orderly fashion without him having to give any indication. Violation of any of his rules, or not doing well enough got you yelled at in front of the whole class. He was pretty intimidating.
All this old-guard teaching style was nerve-wracking to my 6th grade self, but he taught us things most college students never learn (like operations in different bases). He took us well into the concepts of high school Algebra.
So, by the time I got into high school, I knew everything about Algebra, (and everything else) and just tuned out when the teacher painfully launched into another slowly presented topic that I already essentially knew. This, of course, led me to tune out the information I didn’t know, which was more than I imagined. This early frustration led me to give up altogether and sleep through class every day, failing entirely. It would be seventeen years before I would formally touch Algebra again.
Last fall I resumed school again. This time I’m taking it a little more seriously and I want to study science. My placement score doomed me to six terms of remedial math, and I decided that was unacceptable. After four months of intense independent study (during which I reclaimed everything I learned in that sixth grade class, learned to do it better, and learned to do more), I took the test again. This time I placed into Calculus.
But I decided to take it easy on myself and take College Algebra. It was also a concurrent or prerequisite for the Chemistry class I started this semester in (which I dropped after one class because the instructor got Avogadro’s number wrong, but that’s another story.). It’s been fairly easy, but there have been rough patches, too. Today is my first test and I’ve been studying essentially non-stop since Wednesday.
We will see just how well I’ve managed to situate myself on the Math Pony.