Mathochism: Rinse and repeat

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

I started pre-calculus again tonight. I can’t say I am particularly excited about it, but that’s probably because I audited most of the course already. And I’m still smarting a bit from my summer failure. And I’m annoyed that I have to get a new textbook. And then there’s my usual August ennui, exacerbated by a recent heat wave.

But the first class session was satisfying enough that I feel my spirits rising.

Since California’s economy is still in trouble, the math department continues to cut back on sections. This means 77 people showed up for a 45-person class. I am very happy I registered in time to get a spot, but feel just a bit guilty that so many kids need a class I’m just taking for fun. Or is it that at least some are poor at planning? I managed to get a section, even after having to drop the summer session and register late. But I shouldn’t speculate, and either way, this economic climate sucks ass.

Anyway, this new professor seems promising. He is very young — or looks very young, because he must be at least in his late 20s — but he is thankfully not a bro. Rather, he was all business during the first session, and got through a lot of material but was clear about it. And he assigns odd homework problems only!

I wonder if his extra-professional demeanor is due to him being aware that his youthful looks make people take him less seriously? I have always had a bit of a baby face myself, so I can relate to that problem.

I have my beady eye on at least one student so far, because I fear he will be trouble. This student is not a bro either. He is probably my age, and his accent marks him as Russian. But neither his age nor his speech patterns were the problem. Rather, it is his condescending tone toward the youthful professor that gives me pause. Well, that and his penchant for blurting out the answers, even when they’re wrong. It’s likely a dominance issue, and I find such issues tedious.

Both the time slot and pace of this course are much more my speed. When I started this experiment to find out whether I truly suck at math or not, I figured the biggest obstacle would be my brain. But that has not been the case. Rather, class dynamics, teacher performance, my physical state — whether I was dealing with chronic pain or utter exhaustion — have been far more challenging.

I have no illusions that pre-calc will be a breeze. But I am quite certain I will learn it this time around.

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



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