Pi and Math Memories

Today (3/14) is considered “Pi Day” because pi is 3.14 (well, rounded, since pi really goes on forever). I’ve never liked math. Throughout school, I struggled with it. All the way through middle school, I had to have tutoring since I could never fully comprehend all those numbers. Fractions and decimals were a mystery to me. When I was in third grade, my dad relentlessly quizzed me on my multiplication tables. I can still hear his voice in my head saying over and over again, “Six times seven is forty-two. Eight times seven is fifty-six.”

Mental math always confused me. Some people (God bless them) can add, subtract, multiply, and divide in their head. Nope. I can’t do it. I can barely add two double-digit numbers in my head, let alone multiply them. I don’t know why, either. Every time I mentally line the numbers up, they wander out of order and I have to confine them on paper to get them to cooperate with me.

Adding and subtracting polynomials also took me a long time to learn. I took a quiz on them in eighth grade and didn’t get a single question right. Fortunately, my math teacher was very patient with me.

But, oddly enough, there was a time when I was in high school that I had the highest grade in my Algebra II class. To this day, I think there was some kind of mistake and my math teacher switched out my grades with another student’s. As I kept going through high school, I tried to pay a little more attention to math, and I found myself starting to like it at a few points. I made As in my college math classes, but I was still glad when I was through with those in freshman year!

In math, there are concrete answers. It’s not open-ended like an essay question, and everything makes logical sense. Even though I don’t particularly like math, I respect those who teach it, those who major in it, and those who use it every day in their jobs. Question for my readers… how do you feel about math? Were you good at it in school?

11 thoughts on “Pi and Math Memories

  1. I had always loved math and was a top student at it. I loved the sense of order it contained. And then my junior year I had a horrible teacher and lost interest. I don’t blame the teacher because I could have also fought through the adversity, but it didn’t help. Instead that year I had a fantastic history teacher, fell in love with the essay, and went on to double major in history and politicial science. :-)

    • It does have a lot to do with what kind of teacher you had; I had both good and bad math teachers. But it’s true that in the end it’s up to you to “fight through the adversity.”

  2. Math wasn’t my favorite subject, but I didn’t give up until trig. Imaginary numbers really angered me for some reason. Poor dears – it wasn’t their fault.

  3. Somehow I managed to get through High School without any algebra at all. (I couldn’t duck “sadistics” in University, however).

    But a funny thing happened with the advent of the computer. I got one almost as soon as you could buy one already made (this was back in the black and white days), and immediately began to teach myself to program in BASIC. I loved it. It was like using a high-tech set of tinker-toys. You could make just about anything you could think of.

    Then, one day, my girl friend handed me a stack of Algebra work books. I don’t recall why. My eyes rolled up, and I started to sweat, but I took them anyway.

    Just for fun, I opened up the first one, and started to try the math. Mirabile Dictu! I could do the problems. Every one of them. All six workbooks just flew by.

    It turned out that learning how to program a computer, especially using variables, was the key.

    While I never became a mathematician, I lost my fear of (at least some) math.

    I guess there really is more than one way to solve a problem…

    • That’s why I’ve always wanted to learn to program. It seems like it would be involving and a lot of fun… and could perhaps hone the mathematical part of my brain.

  4. I love math and aced the math portion of the SAT’s . . . but I love words too! :D

    I keep hearing about “Pi” ~ this post, the movie “Pi” (suggesting by Spilled Ink Guy), and The Story of Pi (recommended by another blogger today).

    Hmm . . .

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