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Mathematics Self-Study

  1. Jul 28, 2012 #1
    This is a bit embarrassing I must admit, so let me preface my problem with how I have arrived at the problem. I had become jaded with mathematics in high school due to a horrible teacher and a terrible time in his class. (He continually berated us and insulted out intelligence, and considering this was an advanced this class there wasn't any of your normal high school trouble-makers.) So I stopped my mathematics education there because it was as far as I had to go, which was an Algebra 2 class. Sort of a precursor to Trig or pre-calculus depending on which way you wanted to go and the class covered elements of both fields of study. I have completed my first year of college and I am well on my way to a degree in paralegal studies which will be a stepping stone to a Juris Doctorate. Before I start to ramble on though I feel I have shunned and begrudged mathematics for far too long and I feel as if my argumentative power is slipping because I lack the understanding of some mathematical principles. (You see I enjoy a good debate in physics and other subjects because I am a fan of abstract thought.)

    The question is where do I start so I can advance and learn advanced mathematics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 29, 2012 #2
    It's not embarassing at all. I'm asure you that you're not the first person to stop with math due to a bad teacher. And it's nothing to feel bad about. I never pursued physics myself because of a bad physics teacher.

    In fact, you should feel proud to want to pick up math again, even though you have so many bad feelings about it.

    While it is possible to self-study, I think it is way better to take formal courses in the subject. Seeing somebody teach it and letting somebody guide you is very valuable. Especially if they are exceptional teachers.

    You should check out if there are community colleges where you can go to to learn mathematics. That would probably be the best.

    If you do insist in self-studying, then there are many good resources which you can use. A first good resource is Khan Academy. They have courses in algebra, trig, geometry, precalc and calc.
    However, do not make Khan Academy your primary resource. You should absolutely read a textbook as well and make exercises. You can't do this with Khan Academy.
    I always like to recommend "Basic mathematics" by Serge Lang as a textbook. It's quite a difficult text though, don't expect it to be easy. But it's a refreshing read and certainly not like the other high school texts.
  4. Jul 29, 2012 #3

    I thought about taking classes in mathematics to go along with my current study, but I run into budgetary and time problems. I am going to college on government grants and I only have so much money before I would have to go take out student loans and I am trying my hardest not to go into debt before law school. Then I have time constraints because it is hard to get in all of the current course work topped with more classes. I know, I know. Excuses are plentiful but these are truly concerns that I have to take into consideration so that is why I have chosen self-study.

    If I get into it sufficiently enough then I may take the time and money to do a formal course. Any other texts or resources you think would be beneficial? I really want to do this.
  5. Jul 29, 2012 #4
    Start here:


    You'll have to look at the different options they have, as I can't say whether "College Algebra" or "Intermediate Algebra" or one of the others would be more in line with where your current understanding is. Once you've picked a level, you'll see that it has many, many smaller sections. Each section has an instructional component, examples, and also practice problems.

    I'd suggest you start there, and if you get stuck or need an explanation about something, try to pull up a video on the specific topic. The main thing, of course, is not to skip and of the practice problems. Reading about something, or watching something, is great, but it is not a substitute for actually doing it.

    Best of luck.
  6. Jul 29, 2012 #5
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
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