what i've learned along the way
I think my grandma lied . . .
Published on March 31, 2008 By lobsterhunter In Life

“Tenille, you are so smart! You can be anything you want to be when you grow up!”


These were the words of affirmation spoken over me as a child. My grandmother would lift me off the ground, and gently sit me on the edge of bathroom vanity. I would twist and squirm until my feet safely rested inside sink and my body faced the streaked mirror. Nora would proceed to pull my hair back into taut pig tails, and I would wince with pain as she tightened the rubber bands, crying “Don’t give me Chinese eyes!” When she finished fixing my hair, she would go on and on about how pretty I was, and I was certain she was telling me the truth. After all, don’t all parents think their children are exceptional?


Thankfully, Nora didn’t just focus her approval on my appearance. Following her aesthetic accolades, she would praise my intelligence and remind me that I had the potential to do anything I set my mind to. I can still hear her voice encouraging me to work hard in school, so I could graduate from college and become a teacher someday. She constantly reassured me that I was a bright, capable child, and these positive words of admiration helped boost my self esteem.


Unfortunately, she was wrong about one thing . . .


I am not gifted in the area of mathematics. I will never become an accountant, an architect, or an atomic physicist. This reality was confirmed today after taking the quantitative section of Graduate Readiness Exam (GRE). As I finished the computer based test, the math score of 370 glared at me through the screen. The University of Texas at Arlington requires a score of at least 400 before you can be admitted into their graduate program, and I was thirty points short. Gggrrr Fist! Of course, I passed the verbal section with flying colors, but at this point all I could see was the blood-red F for failure that screamed, “You’re a dumb ass!”


This really should not have come as a shock, especially considering my history with the ill-fated subject. In my undergraduate course work I never earned a grade better than a C in any of my math classes. I was always relieved to see a passing grade at the end of the semester, knowing full well that a GPA of 4.0 was out of my league. Math has always caused me grief, and I’ve never really found value in numbers. (No pun intended!) I can still remember getting my first B- in fifth grade. I’ve loathed fractions ever since!


Now don’t get me wrong. I can cram with the best of them. I can memorize any formula long enough to regurgitate it on a test, and pull out a passing grade. But, just like a foreign language, if you don’t use the skills, you lose them! And for the last eight years, I haven’t even blinked in the direction of anything resembling algebra, geometry, or square roots. The quadratic equation and the Pythagorean Theorem might as well be Japanese! I have divorced math completely, and when it comes to aptitude, there is no strength in numbers. Language is my forte.


Thankfully, I can still be provisionally admitted based on my undergraduate GPA. I will receive credit for language courses I’m currently enrolled in, and the analytical writing section of the test will boost my overall score. I will be required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in my first twelve hours of graduate work which should be an effortless task considering my degree plan is Curriculum and Instruction with a LITERACY emphasis.


We all bring different talents and abilities to the table. I need to accept the fact that math is not my friend.  I don’t have to be “good” at everything, and I need to be reminded that failure builds character. This experience solidifies my scorn for standardized testing, and today I have a deep sense of compassion for my ten year old students who sweat their way through the TAKS test each spring. As always, life is a valuable teacher.





on Mar 31, 2008

The quadratic equation and the Pythagorean Theorem might as well be Japanese!

Konichiwa!  Negative B plus or minus square root of B squared minus four times A and C all divided by two times A.  A squared plus B squared equal C squared.  Quadratic and Pythagorean, respectively.

I think I may be an ass.

I hate math...but while I'm not the greatest and carry deep loathing towards it I do alright with it.

High school calc sucked, though.  C average.   I aced my calc class(the one and only I have to take, thank God) here...I was pretty psyched.

I'm in stats for the moment...got a B in there with 3 exams to go...I hope to pull an A...but, we'll see.

I also have physics coming up!  Let's not forget the odds and ends of math in my chem and zoo classes either...though those are thankfully easy...well, comparatively.

Don't feel bad...even the best of us screw up math equations once in awhile....or more than that.  Seriously, you never see derivatives or integrals or population density equations or mole concentration problems or deciphering standardized Z distributions all that much....unless of course, you're into that kinda thing.



on Mar 31, 2008
Negative B plus or minus square root of B squared minus four times A and C all divided by two times A.

Is that the quadratic formula? Isn't AX^2+BX+C=0 the quadratic formula?

More relevantly -- I'm the opposite of you, lobsterhunter. I can do math, no problem, but english was never my strong point...
on Mar 31, 2008
Is that the quadratic formula? Isn't AX^2+BX+C=0 the quadratic formula?

Yikes...you're right, I did the formula. You got the equation.

Told ya I still make mistakes.