the math problem…

While I really don’t care to talk more about my public school past, it is extremely pertinent to the math problem.  It is, in fact, the source of the math problem.  I have been putting off dealing with this problem and I can’t afford to any longer.  The problem is that I had never taken any math class beyond 9th grade basic algebra, and that class I never actually passed.  It would be accurate to say that I have never passed a math class greater then 8th grade math.

In the 9th grade, my math teacher and I did not get along.  I would not do homework and was not participating in class.  I would get an A on every test, but that was the extent of my involvement.  My personal withdrawal from the educational process was well advanced by this point.  Unsurprisingly, I was not given a passing grade.  This teacher made sure that I would have her for math again the following year.  The exact same pattern replayed itself.  I would pass every test with A’s, but not do homework or participate in class.  The result was the same.  I was given a failing grade and, once again, that teacher made sure I would be in her class a third time the following year.  In retrospect, it was a childish battle of wills between the two of us that neither of us won.  I never passed the class and she never got me to conform to standard and do all the work…  Hell, even do some of the work.

I’m not sure what purpose she thought she was serving by making sure that I would be assigned to her over and over again, unless it was simply a matter of ego on her part.  I was a pain in the ass teen with a growing hostility to an educational system that was not doing me any good, not much explanation required there.  The bullies ruled the hallways, with complete permission from the school apparently, since they did nothing about the problem…  I should not say that.  On the rare occasion, if one defended oneself from a bully, since no adults would intervene, they would go out of their way to punish you.  I suppose that counts as something.  Yes, yes, they would punish the bully too at that point, but you had to get punished to get them punished.  If you just let them beat up on you and then told someone, they wouldn’t do anything.  Meanwhile, now that you are both getting punished, because you had the temerity to actually stick up for yourself, now you have to spend 3 days locked in the ISS room with the bully you just want to get away from!  How fun!  Then you get to go and be bullied by a teacher who takes your desire to advance to new material as a personal affront and keeps getting you assigned to her class so she can prove her dominance by “breaking” you and getting you to do things her way.  This was one of the biggest reasons for quitting school and simply taking the 15 whole minutes it took to get a GED instead.

You think this is a sore subject?  Why yes it is.  Before this unfortunate exercise in recall causes me to begin typing exclusively in four letter words, let me simply say that this is the genesis of the math problem.

The problem is simply stated above.  Because of these things I describe above, I never had the chance to even take a class greater than basic algebra.  I received quite a shock when I thought to take a sub-college algebra class to get warmed up and refresh my memory, only to find that I was being asked things that were not in my memory to be refreshed.  I was already being asked things that I had never yet been exposed to.  That was a soul crushing moment.  To realize just how far behind I was on the most important subject that I need to be on the ball about.  I knew I would be starting a bit behind, but I did not realize just how stunted my mathematical education was.  It’s not even a matter of brushing up.  I am missing a whole foundation that must be built, almost from scratch.

Somewhere out there, and I can’t remember her name for the life of me, I hope that woman is satisfied that she did win in the end.  I am finally ready to do it the right way.  While those experiences had a great effect on my life, to the best of my knowledge, my minor irritation of her ego had no effect on her life at all.  So great an effect on my life, that more than twenty years later, I was actually brought to tears when I had to withdraw from that remedial math class to back up and try to asses where I really was on math.  The placement tests have proven nearly useless for this purpose, as I tend to test very well.  I apologize for the bitter tone, this is about as honest as one could ask for, short of foul language.  I prefer not to be, but I’ll certainly make an exception here.

I hope I have sorted that out now and will be starting with a more appropriate class this semester.  This will be my biggest difficulty.  Working my way through the various classes, step by step.  If anything will delay the timing that I hope for, it will be this.

And that, my friends, is the math problem.  I will be happy to take any suggestions on this matter.  Once I rectify the situation and actually start taking proper college level math classes, I will feel better.  In the meantime, this problem tends to gnaw at me a bit.

No worries though.  While the subject may be difficult, and I may continue to have emotional subtext smeared all over this thing, the present is still good.  My grades are good.  I am enjoying my classes and things are going well in that regard.  I’m still working on that “everything will work out just fine, as long as you keep working on it” thing.  That having a little faith thing.

Next time, I’ll share something a bit more recent and little less emotionally complex, LOL!

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