Saturday, January 28, 2012

Mathhole

At the risk of sounding like a sexist Barbie doll, math is hard.

I’m bad at math. Really, really bad. Just yesterday, in fact, I miscalculated someone’s age by 10 years. Granted, that was unusual. But the fact remains that I do not think in optimal terms to be a math whiz. I took gifted math classes in school from 2nd grade to 5th, and struggled mightily the whole time. Even in the lower-level classes I took from there on out, my brain tubes often clogged with solidified integers. I did somehow test into algebra in 8th grade — must have been a good day — but I ultimately had to take it over in 9th grade. I eventually developed an aptitude for algebra, in the sense that if you do anything long enough, you get good at it until you stop. Still, I’ve always been a creative guy to the core. It’s probably no accident that I had to take only two math courses the entire time I was in college, both in my freshman undergraduate year, and both easy. I made C’s.

As much as I hate to be deficient in any skill, I’m most at terms with not being math-minded. I’d like to be better at it, but I’m strong enough to get by. I have plenty of friends who love math and its related fields as much as I love writing. To me, that diversity is what makes the world go round.

As it turns out, though, that’s not the case. I’m a moron and I suck.

I thought about writing a rebuttal to “Math doesn’t suck, you do” in the same tone as the piece. But I was too worried people would take it at face value, and I don’t want to come off as overly pompous. That said, I will note the grammatical error in the title; that comma should be a semicolon. Moving on.

I realize that I’m probably giving this more thought than it deserves. It’s just some rant by someone who probably thinks it’s funny to act superior and curse way too much. Still, I can’t shake it because I’ve heard it so many times by people who were being serious. Also, it’s easy to do. Here are some choice excerpts:

If you suck at math, what you really suck at is following instructions.

I’d rather suck at following instructions than have that be my defining skill.

Why is math the only discipline that has to put up with this bullshit? People gladly learn art, music, literature and geography.

I recall those disciplines having their own detractors as well — usually the superior math people.

When is the last time you wrote a haiku, asshole?

More recently than I wrote an advanced quadratic equation.

Why should you learn math? Because fuck you, that's why.

Please show your work for this answer.

Don't think elevators are awesome? Take the stairs next time, asshole. That's what people who hate math get: stairs.

I always take the stairs. It’s better exercise. I’m glad math didn’t invent those!

One of the pitfalls of being proficient in something is that it’s easy to forget it doesn’t come as naturally to others. Many educators have this problem, rendering their classes impenetrable. It’s also what makes some math whizzes, like whoever wrote this, such intolerable people. The biggest flaw of this screed is that it makes no distinction between those who piss on math and those who just don’t have the aptitude for it. It’s as if I lumped the functionally illiterate with people who can read, but brag about how it’s a waste of time.

And I object to that, because I was never one of those kids who whined, “When am I ever gonna need this?” I never brag about how I can’t cook, and I’m not proud of sucking at math. Yes, I felt stupid when I struggled at math, but that happens when an endless parade of teachers and math-savvy classmates insist that it’s the simplest, most absolute concept in the universe. I wanted to kill at math just like I did (and do) want to kill at everything, but for whatever reason I couldn’t do it. I don’t know what that makes me, but I doubt it makes me a moron. But along comes writing like this to remind me just what a useless Neanderthal I am, adrift and doodling in a world where the superior math-minded among us are making the world shake. And if I’m not a math guy, it’s my own fault, wasting my time by writing and pursuing other useless creative junk.

At least that’s what I gather from this piece...of...writing. Hmmm. Creative communication isn’t so useless after all, huh, fella? Just get better at it, because you’re making yourself look bad, asshole.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like to think that people who suck at math overcompensate in other areas. I can live with that. Hell, I'm kinda proud I suck at math....anyone I've met who excels at it usually bores me.