The Man Who Broke My Fear Of Math

Discussion in 'People I Have Known' started by Mari North, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Mari North

    Mari North Very Well-Known Member
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    I always hated math... I should capitalize that. I always HATED math. I had a block about it, I just didn't get it no matter how I tried. Every year in school got a little worse. I was never at risk of failing, per se, but I must have winged it a lot because I just didn't grasp the concepts.

    Enter 8th grade... as always I dreaded math class most of all. Shivers. Our new teacher was tall and thin... long thin fingers with nails that had been chewed off (yes, I noticed those things when I was supposed to be listening to the lesson.) But then he started coming to each student separately and asking our problem areas. I don't know how I answered that, but I have to assume that my answer shocked him considering they were *all* problem areas. :oops:

    But I started getting it. With the individual attention he gave to each student, I started getting it. I think I ended up with a B in math that year. Amazing for me considering that I had to scrape for Cs previously and probably had more Ds. I hated that so much because I was a straight A and B student... until it came to the dreaded math.

    Anyhow, last year I mentioned to my class group on Facebook that there were two teachers I wish I could thank. One of them has died... the other, my math teacher, happened to be someone a classmate knows. She told him about the post and he contacted me and told me he "got the thank you."

    It doesn't stop there.... he said that in all these years, I was the first former student who ever said thank you or said he made a difference. After all those decades, I was able to pay it forward, so to speak, and make a difference in *his* life. Good feeling!
     
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  2. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    @Mari North , I think many teachers would feel and do better about teaching if more people would give them a little appreciation.

    My father pulled me out of school when I was in the fifth grade, and other than the county library, that was the extent of my education until I was 35. It was the one thing I had ever wanted, an education.

    I gathered all my courage together and took the entrance exams for our local Jr. College, and passed. So I signed up for three courses, and at mid term I found that my grades were B's and C's. This was not acceptable to me. I went to the one lady teacher and asked her what I was doing wrong.

    She asked me about my background, so with shame I told her. Her advice to me was to drop all my courses right then, and take an incomplete in all, so that it wouldn't effect my GPA. She then told me to come back the next semester, and start with the beginning academics that were offered to the new High School students that were going into college. I did this, and by my second semester, I started taking honors academic courses.

    By my third year, my confidence had grown 10 fold. I don't remember if it was three or four years later, but I did go back and remind her of our conversation, and I thanked her immensely. She to said no one had ever thank her, and that it really did mean a lot to her.

    Because of her influence, I never took less than three courses a semester, including the summers. And I continued to go for 19 years. Without her I believe that I would have quit within the first year.
     
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  3. Mari North

    Mari North Very Well-Known Member
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    What a wonderful and inspirational story, Ina! I think you're right about teachers doing a better job if there would be more appreciation. When you look at all that we hear about concerning the teaching profession... probably for the past 8 or 10 years at least, it always seems to be complaining about the teachers.

    Now granted, some of them are corrupt (like in any other sector) and do things that really must be brought to attention, but when it comes to other things... well, I think parents got the idea somewhere along the way that they have no personal responsibility in the education of their children. Which of course is ludicrous, but it does exist.

    Oh, and then there are the parents who treat school and teachers as babysitters and don't really care a whit about what kind of education the child is getting. Teachers are paid *way* too little. :(
     
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  4. Krissttina Isobe

    Krissttina Isobe Very Well-Known Member
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    :oops:What great stories! I wasn't good in math either. I can do the simple things, but when it go to algebra, math sentences, well I got lost. I took Logic in college for my math specs you need to get your degree. I like my calculator it gives me all kinds of answers very fast. Decimals and % forget it...give me my calculator please. Teachers are great people and when you get a teacher that really helped you its fantastic! After all those years to get a thank you and to receive it is so grand!!!
     
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  5. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
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    I can relate to some of these problems. In the eighth grade the assistant principle who also served as the Truancy officer called me aside and asked me why I had missed so much school. I told him I had been sick. A few weeks later as my English Class was nearing a close for the day, my teacher told me to report to the principle's office. The assistant principle wanted me to stay after school a few minutes; he wanted to talk to me. After the last class of the day I remained in place as everybody left the class room. I only waited a couple of minutes and the assistant principle entered the class room. He took a chair nest to mine and he said, "Billy, you are in danger of failing all of your classes, all of them. I know why you have been absent from school. I went to your home and talked to your mother. She told me your family left town and followed the cotton harvest every year during first semester. That makes it hard on you because you're always behind. But I'll make you a deal. If you'll stay after school one hour every school day, I'll help you catch up and maybe, just maybe, you can pass."

    I agreed to do so. I don't know what clicked but he helped me understand math and english which were the hardest for me. I did pass all the subjects I was taking, but I do think I've always had some fear of failing, some ingrained secret knowledge my brain was incapable of coping with complications of life. To a large degree I'm still a dumb bunny
     
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    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  6. Mari North

    Mari North Very Well-Known Member
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    What a wonderful story, @Bill Boggs ! Someone reaching out truly can change lives and I always love seeing evidence of that. I never had a problem with English but boy, that math just terrified me. Still does, frankly, but back then I couldn't just pull out a calculator and let it do the work for me.

    Yes, I think fear of failing is something that never really completely leaves us.
     
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  7. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    @Bill Boggs , The feeling of not being able to cope with the rise of unknown complications, or even daily life, is one that I share with you. Those feelings have been obstacles for me all my life. Because of the lack of education in my early life, I was always unsure of how to deal with life's issues. That's why I believe teachers are so important. They teach us that, as in math, there is an order to most things. They teach children so much more than academics.

    Teaching is as much a calling as medicine is to some doctors. But look at the difference in pay and respect.
     
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  8. Bill Boggs

    Bill Boggs Very Well-Known Member
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    Ina, I couldn't have said it better or nearly as well.
     
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  9. Marilyn Pahl

    Marilyn Pahl Well-Known Member
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    Math sure wasn't my liking at all. Mom was a head bookkeeper and couldn't understand why math was such a big deal, it's black and white you either have it right or wrong. You made math your enemy instead of trying to understand it. She showed me and friends, how to pair off numbers, working with odd and even numbers, story problems. The teachers thought mom taught school and was surprised she didn't. Teacher's Helpers were unheard of, She loved children and seeing them enjoy her passion mathematics. :)
     
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  10. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
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    Math has always been difficult for me as well. I would try to pay attention, but my mind was always wandering during class, It got worse because as you know with math, it builds on previous concepts, and if you miss a critical step, you miss the whole problem and ones after that that use the concept. I always hated it, and did poorly generally making D's. However, with individual tutoring from friends and paid tutors..I realized I was capable of doing it. Some times people who are slow to grasp certain conceptsor who miss critical steps can excel when given individual attention. I wish I could say I loved math today,,,but I do realize it is not impossible for me, and I credit individual attention for that. My son is the same way..He actually took and did well in advanced Algebra and Trig..by having some specialized help.
     
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  11. Marilyn Pahl

    Marilyn Pahl Well-Known Member
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    I agree individual attention. Another way many of us learned numbers was playing cards. Lots of parents and old timers didn't like the idea of card playing calling it the Devil's Work and wouldn't allow a deck of cards in the house.
     
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  12. Ike Willis

    Ike Willis Very Well-Known Member
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    Through grade school I had no problem with math until we got to fractions. When I became a freshman in high school, there was two algebra classes. One for the normal students, and one for students like me.
    I skated through algebra, thanks to lots of help from my mom. After the first year, I had no more math.
     
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  13. Marilyn Pahl

    Marilyn Pahl Well-Known Member
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    How about that another mom that liked math. I'll always remember mom when picking up a pencil or pen to do a math problem.:)
     
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  14. Frank Sanoica

    Frank Sanoica Very Well-Known Member
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    How did I miss this thread? Starting H.S., math was not uppermost in my mind, there were things I did not understand very well, fractions being one of them. They stuck me with Algebra I first year, it seemed easy enough, had a no-nonsense man teaching it about 45, his name was Yeksigian. No one could pronounce it, so he took great pains the second or third day to explain hoe easy it was: "Yek, Sig, Ian!" My mother told me the name is Armenian. He was the first teacher I ever saw who upon growing very irritated by a young hoodlum type, stood up abruptly and said "YOU! Get out!" I got a few "A"s, rest "B"s.

    Second year, Plane Geometry. Hated Theorems and Proofs, but loved making drawings of stuff constantly. "B"s, mostly.

    Third year Algebra II. Thee "story problems" did me in, "B"s and "C"s.

    Fourth year, Trigonometry. I ate it up. All "A"s. Little did I know I would be taking Differential and Integral Calculus within a year, at DeVry Technical Institute, along with Differential Equations. I did OK there.

    Jump ahead to age 60, jobless, living on 300 acres in Missouri, a mile up the road lived the local High School Principle, whose wife had told him I had an Engineering Degree. He all but begged me to consider teaching Math.: his Math Teacher of 15 years had quit suddenly, school opened in 2 weeks, how could he possibly find a replacement to move to, and teach in, a town of 390 pop. in the middle of Mark Twain National Forest?

    My wife encouraged me, I vacillated, but we needed dough, and I figured teaching small kids was an impossibility, but young adults, I could handle. Fortunately, those higher Maths I had been using all my life, I could likely teach more pragmatically than a bonafide Math Teacher, who knew the material, but did not know or understand applying it in practical work, as I did.

    I taught Alg. I and II, Plane Geometry, General Math I and II, and Trigonometry first semester, Calculus the second. Know what? The kids voted me teacher of the year! The other Faculty, like deadwood in an entrenched society, hated me, mostly. Except Mrs. Smith, who taught Chemistry without a degree in it, and appreciated help from me. I taught that year, 2002-03 school year, without a certification, the District under threat from the State, which did not understand that accreditation (and subsequent Federal funding) required that Math be taught. None there were so qualified, but the State would have permitted a non-technical, certified teacher to teach "Math"!

    I turned down their request for another of teaching.
    Frankl
     
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  15. Marilyn Pahl

    Marilyn Pahl Well-Known Member
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    cat-meme-quote-funny-humor-grumpy-computer-wallpaper-3.jpg He explains it all...Isn't that just like a cat?........No sympathy, then again he looks like a cuddle one....:)
     
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    Last edited: Sep 17, 2016

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