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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Math Anxiety

Yes, I am one of those people--a female who barely escaped failing her science courses in junior high. Math scares me to death and I am pretty much a blank slate after 5th grade.

I can add, subtract, multiply and divide. That’s it.

Now we know girls need a boost when it comes to science and math education (at least I hope we know it)? --but we apparently didn’t know until it was too late for people like me. In fact I’m very interested in science and can’t help but wonder if I’d had a little more attention in school or somewhere, I might not be the pathetically science-and-math-challenged adult I am today.

Or is that just an excuse because I couldn’t cut it?

I had one wonderful science teacher in high school – funny, interesting, and engaging. I seem to remember doing pretty well in his class (And thank you, Mr. Favaro, wherever you are). I also remember a chemistry teacher that at least made things comprehensible enough so I could understand them. Those teachers got me through somehow – and I wish I could have had more of them at a younger age.

What I remember about my science teachers in junior high was they were stern and taciturn and boring; and that managed to turn me off completely. Yet now when I think about science—medicine, planets, the environment, the human body—I am not only interested, I’m fascinated. And I wish it didn’t feel like so much of a foreign country.

I know I never would have been qualified enough to go to med school or do much of anything that needed math skills. Or would I have been able to learn more with less hostile teachers? High school math teachers tried (without success) to teach me trigonometry; but way, way back in elementary school, they started some kind of “new math” education that lost me completely.

How much does this have to do with me being female? Absolutely nothing in the REAL sense, and I don’t want to whine here. What I DO want to do is explain that when I was growing up, it really WAS harder to BE  a girl and try to learn math and science. I don’t know if it was because teachers didn’t think we could; and we didn’t think so either. Don’t perceptions color an awful lot of our reality?

I guess what I’m saying here is if I could start over again. I’d love to create the perfect science teacher and study with him/her for each and every grade. Of course that won’t happen—and it’s very unscientific of me to think so magically. But then, I’m a flaky artist. You’ll have to take me as I am.