"Math" has never been a friend of mine. I can remember having math tutors since...oh, FOREVER! I am still not really sure how I ever passed algebra in high school. I couldn't understand why they used letters instead of numbers in those mathematical problems and what about the "word problems"?..."If someone started at the railroad station and someone else started at home, what time would they get to the same place?" Hmmm...well, I guess the one who drove at the fastest speed! And who cares anyway?! So, you see, how I REALLY feel about "math". Eventually I HAD to take math courses in college to graduate and I waited until my senior year to take the two professors who were supposed to be the "best" (most student friendly...) and I DID IT! I put my head to the numbers...used the other side of my brain...and actually made "A's" in those classes. HOWEVER, that did not change my relationship with numbers; I STILL considered them to be the "enemy"!
A few years back, I was in the dressing room at the gym, talking to a girl who had gone to high school with my children and was currently in college. Upon inquiring how it was going for her, she related to me that the only course that was giving her trouble was geometry. I was empathizing with her, when from out of my peripheral vision I could see a lady slowing moving in on us. I could tell that as we spoke, she got a little closer and her ears were visibly perking up (OK...I couldn't actually SEE them perking up...). As soon as I said good-bye to the girl, the lady came right up to me and began to attempt to do the impossible...convince me that math really WAS important (hmph!!!).
She started the conversation out by saying, "I couldn't help but overhearing..." (yeah, RIGHT!...But I DID start out trying to be nice...). As I stood there, I wondered if she was perhaps a retired math teacher or possibly just an "intellectual" Her first argument for the NEED of geometry was going grocery shopping. Hmmm...I said, "Well, I have never had to use ANYTHING I ever learned in geometry to grocery shop; simple addition and subtraction does it for me with the checkbook." She realized that I was going to be a little harder sell on this and brought up something she had apparently "overheard" from my conversation; "You mentioned that your daughter is a ballet dancer?" "Well, she uses geometry every time she dances; while calculating her turns." Trying desperately not to laugh out loud, I replied, "No...I can assure you that MY daughter is definitely NOT thinking about geometry when she is dancing (REALLY...Elle?!). Eventually I told her that we needed to "agree to disagree" because she was NEVER going to get me to say that the "average" person used geometry in their daily life. However, just this past week I had second thoughts about my hasty words toward "math".
I have an obsession with knitting and as I move along in difficulty with my pattern selections, I have been able to consult a wonderful web site (www.knittinghelp.com) for any problems that I may encounter. Last week, while working on a new project, the instructions told me how many stitches I should have and that I needed to decrease my stitches evenly all the way around the project until I got down to a lesser amount of stitches. AH OH!!! This sounded strangely like one of those "word problems" that I previously had no use for. I actually worked with that problem for quite a while until I decided to turn it over to a more "math friendly" person...Robby! Robby and David LOVE math. Once, David told me that while driving long distances he would work math problems in his head between mile markers; he asked if I did the same thing. Hmmm...well, that would be a BIG NO! Especially considering the fact that I didn't know those little signs with numbers on them were "mile markers". SO, I turned the "knitting math word problem" over to Robby and I watched as he gladly took the challenge on. Giving me the answer in no time flat he commented that he may not know anything about knitting, but he DID know about math!
Well, I have rethought my original stance on "math". I SUPPOSE I can consider it a "necessary evil"! Although I still do not see "geometry's" usefulness per se, for the "average" person, I WILL admit that learning how to work those "word problems" might come in handy!