Mathochism: Here we go again!

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

Under the compass of Damocles Over the past month, my college has left several long robo-messages for me about the best way to deal with the first week of school.

Apparently, enrollment is at an all-time high! Parking is scarce! Traffic is a nightmare! The strangely subdued woman in the recording wouldn’t lie, right?

Therefore, I decided to set out an hour early, even if I live 10 minutes away. This turned out to be the right decision, since the parking garage turned into an ant farm shortly after I managed to snag a space.

The campus was packed, but the line for ID stickers (in a flusher economy, they mailed them to us) wasn’t too bad. I got to my class with 15 minutes to spare. As usual, enrollees and hopefuls crammed the stuffy hallway. I am incredibly grateful the weather has gotten cooler lately, or else we would have baked.

I was expecting there to be a long line of clamoring class crashers, but there were only one or two, and the professor informed them the class was full, so they left quickly. This class is smaller than the one I was in last spring. I believe it’s a 35-person class. This is a good thing, because I’m hoping the professor will be less tempted to cull the herd.

As for the professor: Like I mentioned in my last entry, this is the first woman I have come across in my renewed math studies. I am reserving judgment on her until our first exam, which is next month. Will she be all about the bait-and-switch? Or will she test us on material she actually prepared us for?

We do have a quiz on Thursday, so I hope I’ll get a feel for her style then. She also includes review sessions before each exam, which feels promising. Last semester’s Calc Dementor did not hesitate to introduce brand-new, mind-boggling material the day before the test, so I’ll be happy if that is not her SOP.

As for her lecturing style, she seems clear and open to questions, if just a bit impatient (though not sneery). Because of her algebra review, I think I finally (finally!!!) grasped the nuances of set notation. She also defined absolute value in a beautiful way I have, amazingly, not heard before. “Absolute value is the distance between the number and zero.” Lovely! Distance has to be positive, even if you’re going backward!

So for now, I am cautiously optimistic. I am now going to spend some time on a few problems. Since we’re using the same book as last spring, I don’t have to drop $200-plus for a new one (Woohoo!). Maybe some distance and time will help me decipher it better this semester!

If not, I have scoped out tutors, online helpers and workshops.

Here we go again.

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


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