Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Teaching An Old Dog New Tricks...

I'm taking classes...
I'm allowing myself to be taught...
I'm opening my mind... Expanding my horizons...
I'm learning MATH!

For most of you this may seem quite benign... Big deal... math.

NO, you don't understand... This IS a big deal! Math abso-freakin'-lutely terrifies me. My nightmares often involve going an entire semester of never having attended class, yet sitting down to the final exam and realizing it's MATH class I was skipping all those months and the problems look like a foreign language.

I'm a product of the California Education System. I'm not saying it's all bad. I'm just referring to the place I managed to skirt through with my winning smile, good nature and knack for wrapping teachers around my friendly little finger.

Math in high school consisted of something known as The Phase Program. Some misguided school board members idea of educatin' teens their numbers. Book 1 of the Phase Program consisted of Addition & Subtraction... Book 2, Multiplication & Division... Book 3, Fractions... Book 4, Percentages and Book 5, Geometry. At the end of each semester a student in the Phase program would be tested on Books 1-5. If the student didn't pass any portion of the test in any of the five areas they were sent back to the that book to work all the way back through again. I ALWAYS failed long division. All those numbers swimming around in my head confused the hell out of me. So even though I'd work my way up to the Geometry in Book 5 throughout the semester, at the end I'd take that damn test and place all the way back to Book 2 again. Did it make me any better at long division? NO! All it did was make me hate math all the more. Finally after 2 1/2 yrs. of bouncing around the damn Phase Program, I finally squeaked out by a teacher who took pity on my situation or more likely just got sick and tired of seeing me in his class semester after semester. Mr. S tore up my Geometry test and proclaimed me to be educated. Did I ever learn how to determine just how much fence I would need to enclose that oddly shaped backyard? Nope, nor any other fence I might have to erect in my future. Thankfully, I've got my husband, should I ever decide to fence our yard.

Anyway... So here I am, 43 yrs. old and I'm challenging myself to finally learn this stuff. There's another reason for this interest in math. I'm also currently studying 'Transactional Analysis' using the book 'I'm Ok - You're Ok'... It's fascinating, and my adviser is not only patient but incredibly adept in the art of conversation. I'm learning SO much about how to better communicate with my family and friends. My adviser tells me the math is important because I tend to dwell a great deal in my emotions. Learning Math helps me 'step out' of the part of my brain run by emotions and practice using the analytical part of my brain. Therefore, as I exercise my analytical brain I can remain level headed and thoughtful as I converse... Even during stressful interactions... Hey, I have issues and I'm working through them... That's cool, I'm excited AND I'm doing math without freaking out.

It's all good and I thought I'd share.

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