Mathochism: Opposite day

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

A nasty surprise was waiting for me in geometry today.

Uchitel announced that, although we have not gotten through Chapter 2 yet, we are having our first test on Thursday. It will only cover Chapter 1 and one section of Chapter 2, which covers indirect proofs.

Gaaaahhh! I am in a bit of a panic now, because proofs turned on me over the weekend. What I thought was a relatively simple process of making statements, then providing reasons based on postulates and definitions, got complicated really fast. Though I understood why, for example, angle AOC plus angle COD became angle AOD, I couldn’t seem to prove it. Or at least, not in more than three steps.

I understand there is a technique to this, I understand it involves a specific kind of reasoning. But both technique and reason are eluding me at this time.

Gaaaahhh, infinity!

Add to this stress the concept of indirect proofs, and it gets even worse (aka gaaaahhh, infinity plus one!). Uchitel explained indirect proofs as taking the opposite view. Therefore, if the prove is that angle a and angle c are not right angles, you start with the assumption that they are.

Yeah, I’m not feeling it quite yet. At least I was on a slightly better track than the Arguer who, while chastened, tried to argue that perpendicular lines didn’t need to be proven with the protractor postulate. I swear, if that woman were on the Internet, she would be banned as a troll.

Sigh. I have stocked up on flashcards and Sharpies (for definitions and postulates), and lots of caffeine and sugar (healthy diets do not belong in my study universe). I have little more than a day to get it. I may have failed geometry 25 years ago, but I’ll be damned if I’ll go gently into that good theorem this time around.

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



  • This is why I prefer essay exams. I can make a strong argument, but I don’t have to prove it to you.

  • Agreed. I get the feeling I may need to call on a higher power to pass this test.

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