spring has sprung…

arch3

Well, I have not posted in a while and a Spring semester post is a bit overdue.  I have to admit that I was a little bothered about receiving my first “B” grade.  I know, some will understand, some will shake their heads and wonder why a “B” would bother someone so much.   I am very capable of consistent “A’s” and that is what I expect of myself.  That’s just how it is.  While there were many questions about the nature of the exam questions, I still expect myself to manage regardless.  Combined with the fact that the issue is officially in the past, we move on.  The class was still enjoyable and I took a lot away from it.

In the meantime, the Spring semester has started.  The cost of gasoline is an ever present issue.  This semester will be particular hard in that regard.  Oddly enough, a look at the cost of using public transportation reveals no practical day to day savings over driving.  Except for General Chemistry, I did get the schedule I wanted, so the commuting situation could be worse.  It simply could have been better if I had gotten the chemistry section I needed.  Unfortunately, I am at a point in my journey where my list of classes, and the order I take them in, is largely locked in stone.  This does not allow for any real juggling of classes and schedules.  I think my only remaining flexible options are when I take Ecology or Genetics.

Enough of all that, though.  Things are not all about problems and obstacles.  There are any number of positives to enjoy.  I’m on the downhill side of earning my first degree.  I am within twelve months of applying to my list of possible four year universities.  By this time next year, I will be waiting to find out which of my choices will accept me as a student.  The future, being what it is, might even provide an “out of the blue” surprise or two.  One can never know for sure.  In the meantime, I am currently taking General Biology and General Chemistry.  I can already tell how much I will enjoy these classes.  I anticipate that chemistry will be a bit of a challenge, but it is one that I am excited to be taking on.

While British Literature will be enjoyable in it’s own way, math is clearly going to be an issue for some time to come.  While I can easily say that I enjoy math, I still struggle with the concept that my foundation in math is filled with so many holes that I will not really be comfortable until I figure out what those are and fill them.  That is proving to be such a difficult task.  Finding someone to help me explore where my gaps might be is proving to be difficult at best.  I will continue to struggle a bit until I can finally identify where my deficiencies are and correct them.

It is a point that was highlighted to be the other day in a discussion about this subject with a math classmate.  In describing some of my concerns with what we were working on, he remarked to me that he thought I must have enjoyed geometry much more.  I have no idea why he would say such a thing, indeed I told him that I have never taken geometry.  Those of you who have read previous post would know exactly why.  All he could respond with was a blank look.  It was a small anecdotal example of the struggles I face getting caught up with where I should be in math.  It is not a lack of skill or ability, just a monumentally frustrating lack of exposure; a lack of exposure to the point where it is a challenge to even determine what I need to work on, much less do so essentially on my own.  It would seem that I am left to teach myself what I am missing, not as daunting a problem as trying to determine just what I am missing.  All I can do is continue to try to work though the problem, even if I can’t accurately determine the actual scope of the problem.

That aside, I still find it exciting to be where I am academically, where I was, and where I will be in the future.  As long as I continue to have the opportunity, I am confident and excited about what I may be able to accomplish.  All I hope for is the continuing opportunity to follow this path.

Interesting and ironic side note…  While I have no desire to “call anyone out,” my writings are really for myself and are sort of a diary of this experience, there is this strange phenomenon that keeps cropping up as I go along.  Part of me is surprised, part of me is not, but it always seems to pull me up short when I am actually confronted with the gaps in the education of others.  Look, I have my own issues with math, but I am constantly surprised at how widespread some educational shortcomings are.

Students in college English classes who are still not clear on the difference between “inter-“ and “intra-,” for example.  When a writing assignment is given, the responses seem to consistently come back as a bell curve, not the quality but the whether the responses actually fill the directed requirements.  The professor asks for a 400 word essay.  They seem to get back about 20% of responses with more than 400 words, about 60% with about 400 words +/- 50 words, and about another 20% with nothing even remotely close to 400 words, sometimes barely 3 coherent sentences.  Sadly, all too often this breakdown seems to even blue-shift a bit more, if you take my meaning.

Another example that has cropped up multiple times recently would be how many students do not know how to move a decimal point.  I have watched way too many fellow students struggle with converting measurements within the metric system, meters to millimeters for instance.  There are long, drawn out formulae for making such conversions.  They struggle with those.  Where it gets remarkable is when they don’t know how to move the decimal point 3 places.  They seem to struggle with the concept of powers of 10 representing decimal places.  They don’t seem to make the connection between the prefix “mili-” and the one thousandths place.  I get that they may not have seen the official long form equations for conversions, but not understand how one moves a decimal point?  I consider myself math handicapped and I find this absolutely mind-blowing.  Well, perhaps more so because I consider myself math handicapped.

I know a lot of people talk about the shortcomings of our educational system, but to see the results in such a stark manner, over and over again…  Wow…  Conversations with professors do not provide assurances to the contrary.  Those conversations only serve to reinforce these disturbing observations.  It is a problem that is either disturbing, or leaves one wishing that every class was graded on a curve, ensuring your place at the top of each class.  It is not necessarily the kind of thing I care to write about here, but for the fact that it keeps coming up over and over again in daily class experience.  It is a little troubling.

Enough of all that though!  Next academic year I will be earning my first degree, albeit of the two year flavor, and transferring to a four year university to pursue a significant dream of mine.  It will pretty much be all serious science classes from here on out, my favorite kind!  When you are a kid, you are often asked what you want to be when you grow up.  Fireman, cop, doctor, race car driver…  You give and get all sorts of answers.  Well, a big part of me wanted to be a scientist when I grew up.  Obviously I have not grown up yet and I know any number of people who will attest to that.  I can’t wait!

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