# Learning Math

1. Apr 2, 2004

### Chrono

Do y'all think it is possible for one to be good at math later on in life? The reason I ask is because, in high school, I was making C's in math. Actually, I almost failed algebra. But now, in college, I'm making A's in Calculus.

2. Apr 2, 2004

I was kicked out of Algebra in 7th grade, and look at me now!

... I still can't do algebra.

3. Apr 2, 2004

### Math Is Hard

Staff Emeritus
Same here. High school algebra was awful - barely passed with a D. But I was top-notch in geometry. Years and years later, I got an A in college algebra. I got an A plus in calc.
I think it has more to do with the teacher than the material. Probably also has a lot to do with my maturity and commitment to the work. When I was in high school, I mostly had boys on the brain, not numbers and logic! :tongue:

4. Apr 2, 2004

### Chrono

You're probably right about this. The teacher I got now in Calculus is referred to as the best math teacher there, and anybody who's ever had him will tell you that if you fail his class you don't deserve to be in college. Plus, you work a lot more when you know you forked over a couple of thousand dollars a semester.

5. Apr 2, 2004

### Dooga Blackrazor

With some people I think your brain just kind of seems to kick in and improve in areas all of a sudden. It probably varies within different people. Please excuse my lack of knowledge on the brain. However my Biology teacher told us how he used to have an extremely difficult time with Calculus. Then he said later he was suddenly thinking of it and it just came to him.

I think it's possible to get better at Math as you get older. Plus your grade supports the statement. ;)

6. Apr 2, 2004

Does that mean that if you fail calculus they expel you?

7. Apr 2, 2004

### ahrkron

Staff Emeritus
Besides maturity, some times there are also psychological factors that can change dramatically from one stage in life to another. Not only boys can interfere with math processing, but also domestic problems, parental abuse (emotional or physical), divorce of your parents, chronic insecurity, and a myriad other things.

I think a very important factor is that you find something to enjoy in math. It can be elegance and beauty for some, or the kick they feel when they get things to work ok for others. This kind of appreciation can hardly be attained if there are other, strongly pressing issues in your life, but once you find it, you are well on your way.

8. Apr 3, 2004

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
No, you transfer to the school of business.

9. Apr 3, 2004

### matt grime

Can I speak up for the teachers who always bear the brunt of the 'it's your fault I can't learn it' syndrome. Try and bear in mind that, perhaps even uniquely, maths is a subject that it is very easy to forget how hard it was to learn, if you had difficulty with it. The better mathematicians often make the worse teachers as to them it seems eminently obvious. The ones that do make good teachers are those who've understood what it is that enabled them to learn it. Simply put mathematical knowledge is primarily about learning to follow rules.
I often hear students say 'but I don't understand why' and they are using the word understand wrongly. For instance, if we want to understand temperature, we mean its cause and such - the kinetic energy (and rms of the velocities) of the particles and such. But in maths that isn't what you want to understand. You can perfectly well apply the Law pV=NRT without know in what p, V, N, R or T mean by just following the rules. Perhaps more mature students realize this more easily (not that they may do so explicitly). As another example, I firmly believe maths at highschool level (in the UK, approximately the same as freshman and sophomore years in the US) would benefit from people thinking of it as learning French, or Spanish. You wouldn't try and read Sartre in the original wihout learning the meaning of at least a few words; and that is perhaps a better approach for maths too. The student who writes $$x^ax^b=x^{ab}$$ has not failed to understand what exponents are, but forgotten the rules of their use, just as a student who writes je regarderez has forgotten the rules of French grammar. But in maths the reason for the rules is also derivable to help you remember the rules - you can remember what cos differentiates to (everyone knows it's sin or -sin) by thinking a little about a picture - but they are just rules.