Mathochism: Calculus dread
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’m about two-thirds through pre-calc now, and I’m pulling a reasonably solid B average. Logarithm horrors aside, trigonometry feels pretty good, and the few forages into calculus so far, as in studying limits, didn’t feel too scary.
Still, I’m starting to dread calculus. Part of it may be bad memories from 20 years ago. A bigger part is a conversation I overheard the other day.
The class before ours is a calculus class, and I often arrive a bit early to secure my still-coveted front row seat, so I see what the calc professor is putting on the board. So far, it looks like a lot of trig. And a lot of limits.
So that’s no surprise, right?
Well, the conversation I overheard was between Assertive Woman and that calc professor (she once told me he was one of the best in the department). She was asking his advice about which classes to take next year. She asked if she should take calculus. I gather that, for her major, it’s not required.
“How are you doing in pre-calculus?” he asked her.
“I’m in the high Bs,” she replied.
“You probably shouldn’t take it, then. It might be too hard.”
Whaaaaaaaaat? Can only pre-calc A students do well in calculus? I thought a B average showed a “solid understanding of the material,” to quote a kind commenter a year ago? And what about Uchitel and the Summer Professor’s assertions that pre-calculus was the bear class, and everything else is easier in comparison?
Cue the calculus dread!
Sigh. I’m taking the class anyway, because quitting now would be like leaving the marathon with two miles to go. And even if calculus indeed proves that I suck at math after all, that’s part of the experiment, right? Right?
All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.