Mathochism: Filling in the blanks

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

So far, we haven’t gotten into any new material. This is a relief, considering that, in the concentrated summer class I dropped, we were on unit circles by the third day.

We have been focusing mostly on algebra and intermediate algebra, and as I’ve been plowing through the homework, I’ve been a bit disappointed with myself. There are a few blanks. I’ve tried repeatedly to master the language of set notation, but it still doesn’t come naturally. I think I get it, then I get it wrong, mostly on what numbers require brackets and which require parentheses. Granted, I should be more conscientious about drawing up number lines. I’m also still shaky on fractional polynomials, radicals and inequalities. I can solve them. It just doesn’t feel natural, like, say, factoring. The patterns come out eventually, but I have to fight to spot them. Sometimes that feels as frustrating as trying to see the shapes in those magical 4D images that were so popular about 20 years ago. I always felt cheated by those images, because I couldn’t see them. My eye problems, combined with my eyeglass prescription (which to be fair, corrects to 20/20), made them invisible, even as others oohed and aahed over them.

We are coming up on graphs and functions next, and my dislike of graphs is probably coming back to bite me. It looks like I’m going to have to suck it up and put my big mathematician pants on.

The Youthful Professor is doing a nice job helping me fill in the blanks. His explanation of set notation was one of the clearest I’ve heard so far. I am looking forward to seeing how he explains functions. Hopefully, he’ll be more clear than the Brofessor!

I’m also looking forward to the add and drop period being done. The class crashers seem to take up way too much class time (and break time, when I would love to be able to ask YP questions) bickering over open spots. It makes me miss Uchitel, who simply announced that the class was full, and anyone who didn’t have a space needed to leave, but that he would deal with the possibility of adds after class. Heartless? Perhaps. But certainly effective.

And speaking of adds, the loudmouth who annoyed me so much last week appears to have made it into class. Sigh. But he was not as bad in the second row. I’m hoping I can avoid sitting too near him in the future, but that may be impossible. As for the Russian loudmouth, he was very quiet. Long may it last!

Now, I should get back to homework. I have some number lines to draw.

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

Note: Mathochism runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Please check out my next installment on July 10.

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