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Response to lapfog_1 (Reply #6)

Sun Jun 23, 2019, 10:32 PM

8. May I ask,

in what way do you do math for a living?

I love math. When I was in high school I was in a math program called UICSM - the University of Illinois Committee on School Mathematics. A new math, so to speak. It was incredible. We proved everything. I took it for three years, at which point we were well into calculus and I was, quite frankly, over my head. More on that below.

I then didn't take any more math for some 30 years, and when I needed to take math again, tested directly into algebra 2. I had remembered a lot more than I thought I had. I'd also sit in math class and things would bubble up out of the very dark swamp of my brain. The teacher would be saying, This is true if this other is true and I'd know it was true if and only if the other thing was true. There were some other topics we'd covered in UICSM that simply weren't showing up in college algebra, and when I asked the math teachers at my junior college where I was now taking classes, they'd say, "Oh, Poindexter! That's finite math. You usually don't get it until several more years of college classes."

I found myself enjoying the math classes so much that I took a statistics class I wasn't required to take, and then was having so much fun I took calculus. I'm probably the only person in the history of math that took calculus for fun at the age of 47.

And here's the real interesting thing. When I was taking calculus I was enjoying it so much that I'd stop the math teachers I knew and say, "Why am I enjoying it so much now?" And to a person they'd say, "Oh, Poindexter. What people don't understand is that math is developmental," and they'd go on to say that a lot of 16 or 17 or even 18 year olds are simply not ready for calculus yet. They were distressed that the very good local public schools tended to push kids into taking advanced math as early as possible when many of them weren't quite ready for it.

The lightbulb went off in my head. I'm reasonably smart, but at 16 I wasn't really ready for calculus. In my 40s, I was. You don't really have to wait that long, but every chance I get I tell my story to high school students and tell them that it's okay if they're not ready for calculus that soon. Give it a year or two, which was exactly what the college math teachers all told me, and you'll be ready.

As a consequence, my younger son didn't take calculus in high school, even though he was on track for it. He struggled a little bit with college algebra, but did just fine with AP statistics. I think he may have taken calculus in college, not entirely sure.

My older son did just fine taking calculus in high school, loved differential equations, is currently in a PhD program in astronomy. Several years ago he did tutoring/math help desk at a local community college. I frequently discuss math things with him.

I love math.

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jpak Jun 2019 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 2019 #1
lapfog_1 Jun 2019 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 2019 #3
lapfog_1 Jun 2019 #4
PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 2019 #5
lapfog_1 Jun 2019 #6
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PoindexterOglethorpe Jun 2019 #8
Indykatie Jun 2019 #7
jmowreader Jun 2019 #9
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