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Programs Is this an indication I should stay away from higher math?

Quick background: I'm an MD with 25 years of experience. I was never into math as a youngster so didn't so well. As I've gotten older (I'm 52) I really wanna dig into it.

I have been doing the courses on EDX, starting from college algebra and now in precalculus. I am learning quickly but I have noticed that I tend to make EVERY mistake at least once. My girlfriend points out that I sometimes work 90 hours a week and do this when I'm tired but sometimes that's not the case.

Is the fact that I make so many mistakes this early on an indication that I should stay away from the higher things? I have read before that if you struggle through basic calculus you probably shouldn't be a math major because it doesn't get easier. I wouldn't necessarily say I am struggling but it does get frustrating when I realize the simple things I screw up on.

Any thoughts?
 

symbolipoint

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Is the fact that I make so many mistakes this early on an indication that I should stay away from the higher things?
No.

You work as an M.D. for several hours (is that 90?) per week and you are reviewing Pre-Calculus, which is a hard course. You should learn as you go, to make fewer mistakes, and need to check your work to find those mistakes, which again helps you to figure what kinds of mistakes you may make.

What really makes progressing to "higher Mathematics" a difficulty to achieve, is the need to do your job as a medical doctor. What would happen if you interrupt that work to spend several months learning Mathematics in order to get into or "through" Calculus courses? Do you then suffer skill and knowledge deterioration for your medicine work?
 
Thanks for the reply S.

Yes, that's 90. But sometimes it's zero depending on how I schedule things. I have a lot of flexibility.

With the various online courses available I don't see that I will ever need to interrupt my job to focus solely on learning. I have really enjoyed what I have been learning so far and do want to continue.
 

Orodruin

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With the various online courses available I don't see that I will ever need to interrupt my job to focus solely on learning.
I think what @symbolipoint means to say is that learning these things is typically considered a full time job in itself and even then it takes years.

Otherwise I agree with him. We all make mistakes when learning (in particular when tired from other things). What is more important is if we learn from our mistakes.
 
I am definitely learning where I make mistakes! It is frustrating to have so many errors but interestingly pleasant when I discover where I went wrong.

I'm spending average about 15 hours/week now since February. It seems to have displaced crosswords puzzles and reading as a hobby.

Thanks for the responses, I appreciate it.
 
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I have to agree that no, it isn't a bad sign. My degree is in mathematics, and I also made just about every type of mistake along the way. Some of the misconceptions I used to have are really embarrassing.

I had to work through it all, but I eventually I was able to learn enough to understand current research in the areas I'm interested in. And yeah, that took years to do.

From what you described, I don't see anything that should discourage you.
 
The Bill,
thanks for the perspective. So I'm gathering that what I'm going through is the norm. All these replies are helping my confidence.
 
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I already have a degree in math and do exactly the same thing - its normal. Forget it - you will get better. Get onto calculus as fast as you can then Boaz:

You just need basic calculus - Boaz is pretty complete.

Remember - take your time - its not a race.

After that get some exposure to more 'pure' math. The best I have come across for that is is Hubbard:

Bottom line is you are doing just fine. Keep it up and over time you will surprise yourself at what you have learned and can do.

Also remember math is not really about doing long calculations without error or proving tough theorems. Although important, what it's really about is concepts.

Thanks
Bill
 

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