My summation of mathematics is terror

Hello. My name is James Buckley. I am math-phobic. I hate math with a passion, and I have since I was a child. Something about it just did not connect for me. Instead, as a boy, my mother encouraged me to write anything I wanted to write. I started writing short stories that were kind of like children’s horror stories, and I was hooked.

I have been writing for as long as I can remember and staying far away from numbers. It is the sharing of new ideas that I think I am in love with more than anything else and mathematics never provided that for me.

Since grade school I have avoided math like the plague. No matter the class, it seems I would always do all that they can to pass and yet still only barely skate by. It was not until this fall semester that I found out that avoiding math is not the answer.

In high school when we began to discuss algebra, my instructor put a linear equation on the board and said, “Let’s say X is a number that we are trying to find.” I was quick to raise my hand and say, “Um, those are letters, buddy. Are you sure you’re in the right classroom?”

It got a laugh, but I was quite serious. Since letters became involved in math, I have struggled to understand that purpose of this new magic that we call algebra.

I know many of the students here at Maryville College feel the same way that I do. Let me be the first, and most likely the only, person to tell that it is all right to hold a special place in your heart for hating mathematics. With a love of writing and reading it is easy to hate the numbers portion of your course work.

The best advice I can offer you is to read about math. Write about math. It may mean the difference in how you apply and interpret the lessons that math professors are trying to get across to you. Repetition of math problems is not the only way to learn it

I am a senior this year and I am in an intro to statistics class, which is a 100 level class. At times, I feel like I am behind the rest of the class and that can be embarrassing.

After finishing my Algebra 2 course at Pellissippi State Community College, I was excited that I would not have to take another math class for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I decided to take my education to the next level by applying to MC. When I was told that statistics was a necessary class, I all but changed my mind about attending the undergraduate program.

In the spring, I was signed up for an introduction course to statistics. Three weeks in, I became frustrated and decided to drop the course.

Now that I am a senior and taking all 300-level course in addition to stats, in which I struggle the most, I have seen the error in dropping it last semester. The 300-level courses are tedious and time consuming, despite the fact that the subject matter is usually familiar as it goes hand-in-hand with my major. The stats course is just as tedious, and it may as well be a foreign language.

Foreign language courses take a lot of adaptation and practice. Math has a similar demand, but it is important to find a way of learning math that works for you personally. Professor Jesse Smith is an adjunct statistics professor here at MC. He also teaches statistics at The University of Tennessee. Smith has a way of explaining statistical concepts in ways that I can understand. This is not to say that I have found a new love of math. I still hate it with a passion. I have, however, realized the error in avoiding it for all these years.

After struggling in the introduction to statistics course for most of this semester, I felt it necessary to offer this small nugget of wisdom for my own experience. Do not wait to take a course you are not looking forward to until you’re a senior. You will find, like I did, that the upper class courses are so in depth, you will have issues trying to keep up with them and learn all the material from unappetizing core classes at the same time. Get core classes out of the way early and keep your goal in mind in the process.

I still hold the frame of mind of the typical anti-math student. One finds it hard not to ask the question, when will I ever need this? My love of writing and reading has stood in my way when it comes to math, because it was always so easy for me to set it down and just do what I love, and math was never like that.

This is the last math class I will ever be required to take in my life. That thought alone is enough to make me smile. There is just one problem; I have to pass it first. That thought, in contrast, makes me cringe.

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