Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for . . .

Image courtesy: fitriahandayani

How does this image make you feel? Confused? Terrified? Nauseous? I gotta admit, it makes me nostalgic. Its been almost ten years since I stood in front of a class with a wicked gleam in my eye and uttered the phrase guaranteed to put fear into the hearts of my calculus students: Now clear your desk and get out one clean sheet of paper. Ah, those were the days.

Then again, I had to grade that crap afterward. Talk about scary.

These days, I like to see calculus used in a more literary sense:

"I try to make a rough music, a dance of the mind, a calculus of the emotions, a driving beat of praise out of the pain and mystery that surround me and become me. My poems are meant to make your mind get up and shout."

Judith Johnson Sherwin (b. 1936), U.S. poet. As quoted in Contemporary Poets, 3rd ed., by James Vinson (1980). Source

Now you're talking. Gotta like that even if you're not a writer. So here's today's question. Let's see how deep your math phobia really is. Would you rather (a) sign up for a 10 week calculus course, or (b) sign up for a 10 week swimming course to be held in water around, say, 66 degrees Fahrenheit?

Ready? Now get out one clean sheet of paper . . .


  1. LOL! Tough choice. I think I'd go for the calculus (with the knowledge that a passing grade would be very unlikely). Who knows, maybe I'd get some of the language of calculus in my head deep enough to have it resurface in a book.

  2. Math was never my favorite subject. My parents had to hire a tutor for me in this subject. I know the basics add, subtract, multiply and divide but forget the rest of it. Now that was many many years ago. I would rather join the Polar Bear Club and jump into the frozen waters than to ever take a math class!

  3. I'm dyslexic and passing math took a whole lot of help from a whole lot of different people. I still don't know my times-tables as numbers just do not stay in my brain. As for swimming lessons, I grew up in the Caribbean and was swimming like a fish by the time I was five. So... does that mean I don't have to choose? :-)

  4. I'm terrified of the water, and swimming courses usually have required me to learn how to dive. Also I've never studied calculus before, so I think I'd go with calculus.

    I was actually pretty math phobic all throughout grade school. I passed math 11 by the skin of my teeth, and certainly not with a grade good enough to get me into university. I ended up having to take an adult upgrade course to even apply to the university I wanted. What happened changed my image of math forever.

    My instructor was amazing. He was patient and kind and made math make sense. When I pulled a 94% in the course overall, I thanked him for all that he'd done for me, and he refused any of the credit, and said it was all my work. He was, in short, an amazing teacher, and I'm still grateful to him to this day.

    1. Wow, what a great story. I was lucky too, in that all my middle and high school math teachers were amazing.

  5. Never was a fan of (complicated) math, but I sure do appreciate a clean sheet of paper. :)

  6. I might try the math, just to see if age and experience would help. I consider math to be a language, and there is always the possibility that a word or two will make sense.

  7. Tough call. I DESPISE math. But I also grew up in southern CA, so we never bothered enter any liquid substance less than 80 degrees...

    I'll flip a coin.

  8. I'd rather swim with sharks than take calculus. Just saying:)


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