Back In the Old Days

I loved it for the thrill of solving problems. And for showing off. Back in grade school, it was the one thing that made me popular; any time someone got stuck on an addition or subtraction, they'd pull me over, I'd take a look at the problem, and I'd rattle off the answer. Back in second grade, I liked messing with my teachers, telling them that you could subtract 7 from 2 (we were learning how to subtract 2-digit numbers).

My favorite part of fourth grade were the Mad Minutes. The teacher handed us fifty or sixty arithmetic problems, and we had a minute to do as many as we could. Whoever got the most got a Jolly Rancher. Of course, after winning eight or so consecutive Mad Minutes, the teacher started letting the second-place winner get a Jolly Rancher as well. Sometimes I would be having a rough day, and someone else would manage to beat me, and the teacher would sometimes do away with the second-place candy prize on that one time. I would always get angry when that happened.

My mother is a math teacher, so I probably get it from her. Around fourth or fifth grade, I would take her algebra and geometry books and go through them, solving the problems. My dream was to solve every problem in the book, but I grew up too fast for that.

By seventh grade, I had mastered basic algebra and basic geometry. So my mother enrolled me in an algebra II class at the community college. When I entered high school, I took a precalculus class, right alongside my older brother. After calculus, the high school ran out of classes for me, so I took a calculus II class at the community college. For my senior year, I took a statistics class, which I'd never been good at. Ironically, for the last class I was studying alongside the academically low end of the senior class.

By that point, however, my interest in mathematics had largely waned. The math problems were becoming more and more abstract, and solving them had a far lower appeal than solving a concrete, real problem. And when I entered college, the number of students who were just as good at math as me, or better, gave me nothing to show off. I still enjoy basic mathematics, but the advanced math just doesn't interest me.

chalkdust chalkdust
18-21, M
1 Response Feb 20, 2009

LOL!! I can totally relate. Used to love Mad Minutes AND spelling bees. But I got derailed off the math wagon in Trig. Never regained my footing and college calc was beyond me. <br />
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As a result, I majored in Psych and now spend my spare time playing word games instead of doing mental arithmetic (hate soduku).<br />
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There IS something alluring about basic math -- and being GOOD at it!