Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Math Monster

The subject I most dreaded in school was easily Mathematics. Not that I failed in it miserably or always did pathetic but I ALWAYS felt miserable and pathetic about it. 

Attending a math class, studying for it or giving an exam, I remember having excruciating headaches, numbness and a general aversion. I have not grown out of that hatred (if I can use such a strong word) even now.

What better evidence of that but the fact that I still get nightmares about my preparedness. The one I had last night triggered this post. 
I was on the 20th floor of a glass building with rows of chic white desks and chairs. The invigilator distributed the exam papers and I could barely hear her instructions or decipher the  writing on the paper. I finally got to the point of proving  the simple quadratic formula (a+b)^2 and I was again and again getting 'c' in my solution. 
I got up in a sweat in the middle of the night, and thanked god that I'd never be in a situation like that ever again and promised to myself that I will not crib about any problems in life as long as the mathematical ones did not exist!

I have got maths nightmares - (crisp pages from RS Agarwal, PK Jain and what not staring at me - my fellow CBSE mates will identify with these names!) - before important deliveries at work, meetings etc., even personal dilemmas or milestones, and, believe me, the magnitude of all of them pales in comparison to the nightmare itself. Maybe that's god's way of telling me that I have gotten past worse things in life :D.

I have always tried to analyze this fear of mine and I realize that I do not understand the subject. I find absolutely no logic or action-reaction correlation in almost all aspects of maths - ofcourse when you leave aside the obvious functions of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Rest to me all is humbug. My apologies. 

Take quadratics and trigonometry - now who is interested in adding alphabets and not numbers. Never in my life after Class XII (discounting the MBA Entrance CAT preparation) have I had to deal with 'a's' and 'b's' and cos 's and tan's. 

Set Theory was a saving grace - It was, well, you know, logical. I loved the Venn diagrams and always got those questions right - sadly it was never in syllabus after Grade VI :(. 

Probability - my math tuition teacher swears he lost half his hair making me understand the logic that if there are 50 students in a class and only one can become the lead, the probability for a student to become a lead is 1/50 and not half, as I would try to convince him (Using the simple principle either I become or I don't - so only two options). 

And then life became totally senseless and arbitrary after Integration and Differentiation entered the picture. That's when I totally gave up on Maths and finding my way around it. Those symbols, derivations - the universe was meaningless after all. I found solace in Shakespeare and Wordsworth instead. 

So, do you have any number peeves?

[Image Source: Google Images]


  1. Ah yes! Shakespeare...he discovered principle of gravity?--grin!

    Understand completely your non-struggle with mathematics. Thank God there are Peeps who persevered in their understanding.

    I did always well in the Math field, except when it can to exams.

    That's why I chose the violin--came to find out that music is math-derived. Even theory of tone production...(sigh)

    MATH is everything which is not LOVE! Wait, I'll have to think that one over.....


  2. Good for you! btw I read a quote somewhere that Maths is like Love - its a simple concept that tends to get complicated :D.

  3. Et tu :) he he he he maths was a nightmare I tell you , but then that was the only subject I got the highest marks , dont ask me how , somehow exams time it all clicked but before that I have been thrown out of class, stand on bench, hands raised, become a murga , sit in between girls , and all that courtsey maths :)

    and as you said thank god 12th class finished phewwwwwwwwwwwww ..


    1. ha ha ha - nothing beats indian school punishments!

  4. Maths was my scoring subject in school.My favorite topic was Algebraic expressions and polynomials I used to score good in algebra.

  5. oh I understand you! Imagine my complete SHOCK when I found out that half of the world counts most things in daily living...steps, tiles, miles...amazing really..I don't count anything!!
    I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

    1. Thank you for dropping by and being a reader :)

  6. ha! i can so relate to that nightmare.. i still get it!
    only it was the reverse for me. maths exam was the time to relax and sleep well.. but.. The language exams.. they give me the nightmares even today.. In school i tried Malayalam, Sanskrit, Hindi, French.. naa. i always flunked the language papers. My dad even tried to home school me in Tamil. To date i can write only in English and i am not proud of that!
    loved ur probability story. very funny!


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