This week we got into radical functions — simplifying them, multiplying and dividing them, adding and subtracting them, and rationalizing them (getting rid of radicals in the denominator). We ended the week with the semester’s third exam. Honestly, I don’t know what my score will be. I studied less than I wanted to, and less than I should have, but I put forth my best effort.
I’m already looking forward to next semester. The last two nights have been crystal clear and revealed all the possible stars. It’s lovely to behold, but it’s so sharply cold that I haven’t gone out when it was truly late to take another look at them. Plus, the coyotes howl at night here, so I’m a bit concerned that I could be mauled by werewolves or sparkly vampires or somesuch. Better and safer to stay inside and think about math. I did buy some materials for next semester’s Astronomy course, though, including a map of the moon.
Last week I had an opportunity to do an activity that could lead to extra credit, and it was so simple: attend this lecture on Gender Differences and Math Ability. No problem. I attended because I was interested, and it turns out I had a dog in this fight all along. As I listened to the review of previous surveys, I remembered the math competitions I had participated in while I was in high school. The trouble was that with 25 more years of memories in my brain, I couldn’t remember what they were called or even where they were held. I even instigated a little groupthink meeting on my Facebook wall with the other parties involved, and while people remembered participating, they didn’t remember any more about the particulars than I did. Why were we there? (Well, we were good at math.) What was in it for us? (Apparently, nothing.) What was in it for our high school? (Who knows.) How did we score? (We don’t remember, or did we ever know?) How did we compare with others? (Apparently, not well enough.) And since I have no memories of high school math other than the parts I got stuck on (I’m taking to YOU, quadratic formula!), I couldn’t even speculate as to what kinds of problems were on the tests.
I was supposed to write a paragraph or two on my reaction to the lecture, but I have the strong sensation that if I started writing formally about this topic I would not be able to end it in less than 25 pages. Rather, I emailed the lecturer with my thoughts and questions, and cc’d my algebra professor. Apparently it’s a bit of a burr under my saddle that we should have been identified as strong math performers but nothing would ever come of it, and we would have so little personal investment in the process that we would be unable to even remember the names of the contests in which we were entered. I can state here that nobody in my educational process EVER suggested I go on to focus on math or science once I got to college.
So, I disembarked from the Math Train after Calculus in college. When did YOU get off the Math Train, and why? Other interests? Felt stupid? Didn’t care? Weren’t brave enough to be geeky enough to live the dream? Found a better application of your math ability? Taking your calls until the midnight hour.