1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is ME realistic for someone who hates math?

  1. Sep 8, 2014 #1
    Mom, here.
    I have a high school freshman who's currently homeschooling (dyslexic and ADD, school was a disaster!)
    He's a classic Lego-kid who loves tearing apart my appliances, electronics, vehicles, etc. He's even gotten to the point where he can actually repair the above, too. He gravitates toward shows like How It's Made or anything astrophysics-related.

    He's always said that he'd like to be an engineer; either the kind that drives the trains or the kind that builds them. ;) The older he gets, the more he leans toward the building kind, though. A couple of years ago, when his dad stuck the label "mechanical engineering" on it, and gave a brief idea of the variety of things MEs do, his eyes lit up. Yeah…that!

    Keeping in mind how young we're talking (14, so of course this is all subject to change), should we encourage the engineering thing, even though he hates math?

    He's good at math, he just doesn't like it. He's currently in Algebra 2 and chemistry and doing fine in both. He's hoping for physics next year as he really liked the physics he did in his physics/chem overview class last year. When I pointed out that physics is just a math class disguised as science he said that was fine. "It's math with a purpose, Mom."

    What are some thoughts on this?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 8, 2014 #2
    Doing well in undergraduate engineering can be quite a challenge. Many people don't do engineering realizing the amount of work it is (or at least the amount of work the degree is ), they simply go after it seeing how much money you can make. That said many people choose engineering and become obsessed with it and succeed with flying colors. Since your son likes physics (which is the closest one could have to an engineering class at age 14), he seems to have the interest you need to succeed. Engineering programs have a high attrition rate, and the biggest factor is not intelligence per se but motivation to get the degree and interest in the material. If he can get through his math classes (Calculus 1-3, differential equations, and matrix algebra) and keeps working hard he should be able to graduate and be successful in a job.

    The biggest obstacle would be the ADD. He's got to be disciplined enough to go and pay attention through each stem class and put in 8-12 hours/week into his studies per STEM class on average. This can be a lot of work for students and it takes a lot of self discipline. If he can do this, he'll do fine!

    At this age I would introduce him to programming (e.g. python) to see how he likes that. This is a skill that is not taught well enough to engineers in my opinion. He could try to make a 2d videogame using the physics he learned in school. Lots of math with a purpose.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  4. Sep 8, 2014 #3
    Honestly I'm a little worried about ANY undergrad program.
    Between the dyslexia and the ADD, the deck is really stacked against him. But, that's part of what we're working on with homeschooling; developing systems and routines to keep himself on track.

    Thanks for the python recommendation. :)
     
  5. Sep 8, 2014 #4

    Rocket50

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Maybe explain to him the usefulness of math? A reason he may not like math is because of the way it is taught.

    Honestly, if he's good at math and just doesn't like it, he probably should be okay. Take a few math classes and see how they go. He can always change majors afterwards.
     
  6. Sep 8, 2014 #5

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    His doing well in Algebra 2 and Chemistry seem to contradict the dyslexia claim.
     
  7. Sep 8, 2014 #6
    On the contrary.
    Dyslexia is primarily known as a language decoding/encoding issue, though there are other working-memory deficits that usually accompany. It typically presents via reading/spelling/writing/etc.

    Fortunately, many (most?) people with dyslexia have no trouble with numbers and symbols (that's dyscalcula). He's one of them. His math/science scores on last year's Stanford, for example, were 97-99th percentiles. Spelling, on the other hand, was 7th
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  8. Sep 8, 2014 #7

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member


    My reasoning for my comment is that both of those courses require very good reading and writing ability; maybe not always in quantity of pages, but in certain groups of pages read many, many times to achieve precise understanding. A person who cannot read well will do very poorly in a Chemistry or an Algebra 2 course. Steps and symbols must be written very reliably and with no ambiguities. The student must answer questions which include arithmetic and algebraic steps; must draw figures and label parts, and use those labeled drawings to answer questions. Some exercises as written will require careful reading and thinking as part of their analysis for answering.

    Maybe dyslexia occurs to different extent in different people; maybe your son has received enough help to find ways to overcome some of what his dyslexia does to him. MAYBE the fact that drawings are necessary for Algebra 2 and Chemistry ARE HELPFUL FOR HIM TO LEARN. There are some students who do not do well learning various remedial mathematics courses because they mostly refuse to make useful drawings.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2014 #8
    But most likely it's because these are both classes that aren't heavy on the reading/language (remember, high school does not require as much from the individual learner as college does), but instead on discussion, examples, auditory or hands-on inputs. :)

    It's not at all unusual for dyslexics to do well in math and/or sciences.
    And neither his Algebra nor his chem classes require anything for writing. (Well, unless you're talking about the physical act of writing, which really has nothing to do with the process of writing…One is a fine-motor skill and the other is a language output)
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  10. Sep 8, 2014 #9

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member


    You really must believe me when I tell you that both Algebra 2 and Chemistry require good reading skills; that the reading needed is VERY heavy. If very little writing is required for these courses, then something is wrong.
     
  11. Sep 8, 2014 #10
    This is such a very odd tangent. I never would have anticipated it when I started this thread...


    symbolipoint, I know exactly what's in his texts and classes. He's homeschooled.
    For that matter, it might have been a few years, but I took both Chem and Algebra 2 as a high schooler. Near as I can tell, not a whole lot has changed...

    Personally, from junior high through college, I can't think of any science or math classes I ever had that required much in the way of writing. Usage of a pen, yes, notes in a lab book even, but not actual language-production writing.
    Science texts had reading of course (he either has extremely short assignments, or help with the reading) but math? I can't think of any math class I ever took that had much in the way of reading, either. Shoot, I might have liked math better if there were more reading. ;)


    I promise you, the kid is textbook dyslexic. lol
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  12. Sep 8, 2014 #11

    symbolipoint

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    To study Algebra 2 and beyond, "Elementary" Chemistry and beyond, and into engineering courses, and not do a great deal of heavy-duty reading and writing? Especially in college?


    Good luck.
     
  13. Sep 9, 2014 #12

    Nugatory

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    "Math with a purpose" sounds like he doesn't hate math, he hates studying it for the sake of studying it instead of applying it.

    One of my daughters has dyslexia and ADD. She's successfully finishing a joint major in art history and computer science (the kind of "Damn, I never would have seen the synergy!" connection that ADD people are sometimes very good at) at a very demanding college. That's means lots of math, lots of reading, lots of writing. So yes, it can be done.
     
  14. Sep 10, 2014 #13

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I know several dyslexics with definitely sub-par reading and writing skills, yet they have no problems being brilliant chemists and biochemists. Trick is, you can build very good mental models of things/processes without symbols (some even say dyslexics are much better at that than 'normals'). Sure, you need to communicate with others, but definitely being weak at reading and writing is not a show stopper.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: Is ME realistic for someone who hates math?
Loading...