Mathochism: The return

One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?

Last fall, when I mistakenly dropped my geometry class, then found I could not get back into any section because of the college’s severe budget cuts, I wondered if that was the end. Why continue this quest? Would my time not be better spent elsewhere? Why torture myself for no reason?

And why, for all that is good and holy, was I so eager to retake a subject — geometry — that I hated and feared in high school?

Well. Umm. Yeah. About that…

I’m obviously a glutton for punishment, because I started plane geometry today. And I wasn’t the only mathochist present — 75 people showed up, vying for 45 spots. I only got a seat because I was there 15 minutes early. The seats filled up quickly, and the scrum by the door was so thick by the time class was about to start that the instructor had to elbow his way through.

“Oh my god,” he said, surveying the packed room. “So you all love plane geometry, eh?”

This instructor is Russian, and, ironically, it is because I wanted his class last semester that I mistakenly dropped my section. His reviews on ratemyprofessors.com are fantastic. As opposed to the Brofessor’s, who have grown abysmal with no help from me. Sadly, he is still teaching. So much for the Chair’s assurances.

Anyway, he announced to the masses that his class could only hold 45, and that the class was full. Since I had gone nowhere near the online registration site since I got my class back in December, I was still one of the 45 enrolled. Of those, 36 showed up. This meant that a free-for-all erupted among the 35 hopefuls for the nine open spots. The instructor, who had been teaching all morning and had another class after ours, was not in the mood to handle it. He told them to set up some sort of lottery, figure it out, then leave.

Things got ugly for a while. Luckily, campus security was not called in. When the dust finally settled, and most of the disgruntled had left, there was only an hour left of class.

Unlike the Brofessor, however, this guy doesn’t chit-chat. Yes, he told us he got his degree in Moscow, and that he teaches at multiple colleges. But then, he actually taught geometry. And he did something I always appreciate, which is give some historical background on the subject. As it turns out, the Egyptians were the first to use plane geometry. Sure, Greeks like Euclid and Pythagoras get most of the credit, but the Egyptians had a-squared plus b-squared equals c-squared down before Pythagoras.

Also, there are several different kinds of geometry! And I now know the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning!

I learned something!

I guess I’m still a mathochist after all.

All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.

One comment

  • That sounds like it’s going to be an enjoyable class. The professor sets a great precedent. I actually have fond memories of high school geometry, but not because of the subject matter.

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