Saturday, November 05, 2005

Here There Be Monsters

In searching for my monsters this week, I found one that is not so much an enemy of creative self-worth, but just self-worth in general.

Let me set the stage...In third grade, at least at the time I went thru it, there was a big emphasis on learning the basic skill set for mathematics - adding, subtracting, muliplying, dividing...My parents were house sitting for a guy my Dad knew that was on sabbatical in Europe for a year...so we knew the housing situation was temporary. A couple of weeks before we were to move out - in the middle of my third grade year - I came down with chicken pox...missed the last couple of weeks of school..arrived at the new school, barely got to know how to find the room, and I came down with measles...so that shot another couple of weeks..

When I left the first school, the class was barely starting on subtraction...the new school was way futher along - they were into complex multiplication and division...So after spending weeks in bed or in quarantine, I was faced with the ugly realization that I had no idea what was going on...the teacher called on me to do a math drill, not my favorite sport under any circumstances, and as I opened my mouth to attempt the answer, I hurled all over the desk...In my weakened state, I had come down with the flu and it just picked that moment to make itself very shockingly public...The boys in the class were not at all kind...

And unfortunately, I was too embarassed to let my mechanical engineer Dad know I was struggling...Mom and Dad had other stuff on their minds - my sister came down with every thing I did, two weeks later like clockwork, and my mom came down with Mono...so we were all really sickies for several months...

So...that 'You don't know anything about mathematics' monster has been hanging around for eons...definately damaging to self-worth - sometimes I even hear the laughter. I have been working really hard on changing that this week to 'Of course I CAN do mathematics', but the blurts have been ferocious - like 'I don't know that I will ever enjoy mathmatics' or 'What do you need to know mathematics for? You have a huge machine that will do any math you type in and Google will tell you any formulas you need'...Tragic when you think about it that this monster has been hanging around for almost all of my awareness..

I need a huge monster-swatter... this one may take a while to kill off..

5 comments:

Debra Spincic said...

Girl, I'm standing in the same line! In my 3rd year we transferred to Germany and the kids had already learned their multiplication tables. I spent what seemed like an entire winter in the cold kitchen with flashcards or writing my times tables. I learned them but it was not fun.

Just about the same thing happened to me when I was taking typing in High School. We transferred and the new class was so far ahead of me. The only way to catch up was to look at the keys. What a horrible habit to break later. I spent most of my lunch hours in the typing room doing assignments. Gawd!

Pat/SWquilter said...

I have major math anxiety, but unlike you, I really can't recall why. I just remember that along about the 6th grade I disliked it so intensely I quit trying. I took Algebra I my freshman year in high school and got 3 Cs and a D in it. I went to a very small high school and there was only a one year math requirement, so I was going to stop right there. My Dad is a banker and he said that one year of math wasn't enough for anyone, so I had to take a math class my sophomore year -- Geometry was the next step and lo and behold, a math class that I could understand. If I could memorize those theorems, I could make the numbers work -- but give me a page of nothing but numbers and I break out in hives - don't have a clue what to do with them. Fortunately for me, I test better in math than I think I can actually do in it, so while no whiz kid, I can usually pull a decent score in math on a standardized test. When I got to college, the requirement at Southern was either a year of math or a year of a foreign language -- my major didn't require any math (but required two quarters of chemistry and a quarter of physics -- go figure!), and since math is THE MOST foreign language to me, I took a year of Spanish. I still love Spanish -- took it again at a junior college after I moved here and one of my fondest dreams is to have someone to speak it with daily so I could be fluent! I can do enough math to make a quilt, and have a friend who is good in math to call on if the math gets too tough for me, I don't balance my checkbook because the math skill involved in doing that eludes me (my Dad would die!!) -- basically I get by, but I really wish I understood math, but apparently am not motivated enough to try taking a class. Sorry if I got off topic here, once I started thinking about math, all this other stuff sort of rolled off my fingers onto the keyboard.

Pat

Debra Spincic said...

Pat, balancing a checkbook is adding and subtracting. I believe you could even find a free program if you really wanted to do your balance; although, "ballparking it" works too!

Suze said...

Pat...yanno, I bet most of us quilters probably did enjoy geometry! That was the one math class in high school that I didn't struggle with either.

Pat/SWquilter said...

I hear other people say that they hated geometry (not quilters, just other people generally) and I can't understand it. It was the only math class that made me sense to me after the most basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division -- and I'm a "pre-new math" baby, so when I watch my nieces do math problems, I'm even more confused by the whole thing cause it's nothing like the way I learned math.

Deb, as for balancing my checkbook, I "know" it's supposed to be simple addition and subtraction, but as soon as it is off by a bit and I can't figure out the problem, I just give up on it. Maybe I should look for a remedial math class at one of the local junior colleges. . . or elementary schools! LOL!

Pat