Mathochism: Spectacular failures
One woman’s attempt to revisit the math that plagued her in school. But can determination make up for 25 years of math neglect?
We got our tests back today. I got a 33. In case I should wonder what that translated to, the Calc Professor kindly wrote that 33 = F.
This didn’t come as a shock. I knew I had failed. Nor did it really come as a shock to hear that, out of 45 students, no one got an A. Two people got Bs. The rest of us got Cs, Ds and Fs.
I suspect fewer people got Cs than Ds and Fs, at least judging from the moans and groans at break.
The most disheartening part was the Calc Professor’s statement that students who got Ds or Fs should drop the course, because they clearly had “major” problems and would never do well.
I not-so-respectfully disagree. I am not dropping this class, in spite of such ominous statements. I know exactly what went wrong on this test: I choked.
I panicked. I lost confidence. The anxiety clouded my brain to the point that I erased correct answers and substituted wrong ones. I got 11/6 at first for a limit problem. Then I got panicked on the second, almost identical question, and messed it up by forgetting a negative sign, which meant it was not 11/6, though it should have been. It’s the little things, remember? The answer WAS 11/6.
I couldn’t see the forest for the trees on others. Of course the domain of a fraction with a denominator of square root of 3 + 2sinx is all real numbers except negative square root of 3/2. Had I not panicked and focused on the numerator, which was some weird polynomial, I would have seen that.
By the time I got to the Intermediate Value Theorem problems, the panic had pushed all those carefully memorized statements out of my head. There have been occasions in my life when I’ve forgotten my own phone number. They were times when I was under a lot of stress.
I know this about myself, but luckily, this has only happens rarely. The question is, how do I prevent it from happening again?
All text copyrighted by A.K. Whitney, and cannot be used without permission.