Pre-Calculus Blues

  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Is it just me or is math not really math until at least Calculus, or even later? I remember when I took calculus over a decade ago I was amazed at how much I loved the topic and how well I did at it, considering I was not majoring in math or sciences at the time.

My pre-calculus teacher, (who is fantastic), mentioned to us today that she did not even like math until calculus, at which point "it all started to make sense."

She said this as we have been working on trig identities. Trig is dull. Mind bendingly dull. I am not sure why I can explain why I prefer algebra to trig and why I prefer calculus to both. I remember really liking geometry in high school but for some reason trig does not do it for me.

I am a math major at present though the real work does not start until I get out of calc II. Simultaneously with Calc III I can take differential equations and bridge to abstract math (which I think is a kind of lead in for Linear algebra). I have a stellar astronomy and cosmology class right now which feeds some of my thirst for math and science but really don't do much for my degree (unless I add a physics major, which I might). Other than that it's humanities. I have a better time in my film studies class analyzing Citizen Kane than I am in my math class.

(Which takes place in a building on campus that looks like a serial killer hideout from "Criminal minds." It also has those tiny desk/chair contraptions you have to stuff yourself into, and is full of freshmen, so I feel like I am in high school. Except now instead of gawking at the girls I am thinking "geeze, get some clothes on.")

Is my disdain for the earlier topics (such as trigonometry) likely to cause a problem later? It's not that I don't understand the material, it's that I do not really care about it so much.

Pardon the slightly indulgent rant.

-M
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
symbolipoint
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How well are you doing in your PreCalculus course?
Would you be impressed with what you could do when (or if?) you study some courses which rely on Mathematics including Trigonometry and Calculus, such as Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Programming, Geology/Earth Science?
 
  • #3
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Oh I'm doing just fine in the course. In fact I spent the last 3 months or so studying in preparation for it (I'm unemployed) since it's been so long that I've had any math courses.

I'm not sure what you mean by "would you be impressed?" I think you are addressing the question of "Just what can I do with this?" Which really isn't my problem. For one, I love mathematics purely for mathematics sake (except for some reason trigonometry), but I also love physics.

Perhaps I am romanticizing "higher math" or just being impatient? I suspect a little of both. Is this a common experience?

-DaveKA
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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I'm not sure what you mean by "would you be impressed?" I think you are addressing the question of "Just what can I do with this?" Which really isn't my problem.
The meaning was, could you enjoy using Mathematics (including Trigonometry) as tools for ability to predict and ability to lead to a decision. You seem to not have this sense of enjoyment for Mathematics's predictive and decision-making power, but this may change. A couple more Math course, a couple tough physical science and Engineering courses, and yes - your feeling about enjoyment of using Math may develop.
 
  • #5
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From my experience, it should not cause problems down the road. I finished my undergraduate studies in math and physics and am now in grad school for math. However, I disliked algebra 1 and geometry severely. To this day, I am not fond of statistics. There will be areas that you dislike, some of them you will love when you revisit and wonder why there was once a hatred. And some of your favorite areas of math will fade away into the background. What matters is that there are areas of math that you enjoy. Just make sure you aren't building up future classes and pushing through just to get to those. You actually may not like that class.
 
  • #6
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Good points.

I find it completely odd that mathematics even has such an aesthetic whereby we can say we even prefer one thing to another. I am sure non-math people find this even more puzzling.

I remember loving geometry in high school, and I haven't really revisited the subject except by way of trigonometry, which I do not like. Perhaps "dis-like" isn't the same as "I find studying the subject to be dull."

-M
 

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