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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Why I hate math and a teacher named Gus

This might shock you.

I have never had algebra. I have never had calculus. I have never had trigonometry. In fact, I had to look up how to spell that last one.

Last week, I hinted that I would reveal more about my learning disability in math and today I am keeping my word.

I am not a great test taker. I really need to put a major effort in to take a test. It's not something that comes naturally to me and it require concentrated effort on my part. A lot of effort.

When I was in high school, we were separated into business tracks and college tracks. Basically, if they thought your grades reflected little hope that you would continue your education you were placed on the business path.

Sort of a contradiction as even in 1990, furthering your education to garner employment seemed like a probability.

I had a ninth grade teacher who for this blog post we will call Gus. He delighted in making fun of my inability to solve even relatively easy math problems. "How much change would you give a person if their bill was $3.47 and they gave you a $20. This is third grade stuff. You're a freshman."

In my head I know that it is 3 pennies, 2 quarters, a dollar, a $5 and a $10. However, if you want me to say $16.53 that just ain't gonna happen unless I have some paper.

I loathed that man. Still do.

My standardized test results forced my placement in a remedial class. I still remember thinking that I couldn't possibly be as inept as the people I shared that room with.

Here's what I know:

I am okay with it. I realize that we all have our strengths and we all have our weaknesses. Where I am weak in math, I excel in the written word. I might not be able to figure out the area of the room I am currently sitting in, but I can write an article on just about any topic...including speed humps.

It is much easier to make change the way I do it. I worked as a cashier and we had to figure out our own change. Counting up like I do is significantly easier than subtracting.

No one can make you feel inferior unless you let them. Do I think Gus was an asshole? You bet. Do I think that my placement in that remedial class was necessary? You bet.

But they way I responded was totally my choice and if given the opportunity to do it over, I think perhaps I may have put forth a little more effort.

Perhaps if I did, the idea of being in charge of all of the food ordering next year, as well as keeping track of where all the food goes might not feel as intimidating.

Really glad I'm allowed to use a calculator. That bread order is like a word problem...if 210 student order toasted cheese and there are 24 slices of bread in a loaf then...


7 random thoughts:

Wendy said...

I am so proud of your accomplishment. I know you are going to be an awesome cafeteria manager. You are already an amazing mom who can purchase, organize and make food for your family.

Now on to Gus, when I decided to become a teacher, I thought about what it was that I liked about my favorite teachers...none of those teachers ever talked down to me or made me feel stupid. A teacher should teach and make you feel smart not dumb.

Pish Posh said...

Hardest class I ever took was statistics. Oh my god I worked so hard in that class it was crazy. I never took trig, but I took the rest.

Math is hard for many people. It really is. And you know, people who are good at math aren't always good at other things - like language (and writing! ;))

DeepBlue said...

Dear Kisa,

I don't think I've taken the opportunity to congratulate you for your promotion. That will certainly bring new twists to the Lessons from the Lunchlady... oops... maybe you should rename this "Lessons from the Cafeteria Manager" ;)

Hugs
Jon

p.s. I would like to share with you a great link to a wonderful blog. Maybe you already know her but since I don't see her blog on your blog roll, I give you the link. I think you will relate with this lady. It is called Scary Mommy!

Kristie Maynard said...

In our high school, we decided what track we wanted and I did college entrance science, so had to take 4 yrs of science and 3 yrs of math. I did okay, but I'll tell you, I'm not sure algebra, geometry or trig ever really made a difference in my life.
As for the way you count up change, that is the correct way to do it and it really bothers me that hardly anyone does it that way any more. If you count it up instead of trying to subtract, you know you have the right amount.

Let me tell you, my sister in law and I have been friends since we met in kindergarten at age 4 and in high school she took a business track. She struggled with the basic math class in our freshman year. I took all that math and did fine. We took typing at the same time, we took the same exam and she got 98% I got 60% that's why she did great in an office setting and I did great in nursing. Just wouldn't have worked the other way. Like you said, we each have our strengths.

Sounds like you have done great in your life, even though you had an asshole for math in high school.

You'll do fine in that new job, you'll figure it out and get it right even if you don't use a conventional method, you'll use what works for you.
Thanks for sharing this little glimpse into who you are.

Kristie Maynard said...

In our high school, we decided what track we wanted and I did college entrance science, so had to take 4 yrs of science and 3 yrs of math. I did okay, but I'll tell you, I'm not sure algebra, geometry or trig ever really made a difference in my life.
As for the way you count up change, that is the correct way to do it and it really bothers me that hardly anyone does it that way any more. If you count it up instead of trying to subtract, you know you have the right amount.

Let me tell you, my sister in law and I have been friends since we met in kindergarten at age 4 and in high school she took a business track. She struggled with the basic math class in our freshman year. I took all that math and did fine. We took typing at the same time, we took the same exam and she got 98% I got 60% that's why she did great in an office setting and I did great in nursing. Just wouldn't have worked the other way. Like you said, we each have our strengths.

Sounds like you have done great in your life, even though you had an asshole for math in high school.

You'll do fine in that new job, you'll figure it out and get it right even if you don't use a conventional method, you'll use what works for you.
Thanks for sharing this little glimpse into who you are.

septembermom said...

Boy, do I need my calculator!

And Amen to all that you said :)

Jenners said...

I'm not a math person either. (Confession: I still have to count on my fingers for basic addition and subtraction sometimes.) The basic stuff just never penetrated my brain and I just got moved along regardless. I do have to say: Thank God for calculators.

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kisatrtle
I'm a 41 year old (gasp) freelance writer, school cafeteria manager, wife and mother. I have three children and one anxious and overweight beagle. I use my blog to make others laugh, to share some cool crafts, to document my lunchlady adventures and to lament about the challenges faced by us all on the journey called life. Thanks for visiting. Please leave some crack...um...I meant some comments.
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