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Troubles with math

  1. Jul 15, 2005 #1
    Hi, all -

    At this point in my life, I am incompetent in math. I was raised by my mother to be a self-directed unschool, and although I expressed an ardent interest in science, particularly regarding the origins of the universe and properties of space from an early age, my parents never really encouraged me much when it came to math (although my father is an architect and works with math all the time, he doesn't like it much).

    With really no background in math I jumped into public high school at 12 and scraped by to get an A/A-. They put me in honors and I had an awful time (I got a 70, with a lot of extra effort). I feel increasingly sure that I *need* to have my math. I am an analytical person, and I deeply would like to pursue a career in physics.

    Obviously, as math is the *language* of physics, I need to be profficient in this. I have just started being tutored, but I am struggling again. I feel a bit like the victim of a cruel joke, because I really love physics, but I'm stuck by this barrier of general high school math. I don't feel like I can give the 'dream' up, but I am bound by my logical, practical side, and know that I shouldn't go for something I may really love (and find meaningful) but am no good at. Thanks for your time (this turned out to be quite the ramble!)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 15, 2005 #2


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    How are you studying math? The problem may be that you are trying to learn a certain level of math without having understood the previous levels. I don't just mean having learned them, but being able to remember all of the important concepts. Here is how I study for math. I go to the library with my textbook for that course. I read it until I come across an idea I don't understand. I then get a book on that topic and read it until I find something I don't understand. Sometimes it takes five books for me to understand one proof, and the last book will be at a high school level. You just have to make sure you really understand what you are learning and any test will be easy.
  4. Jul 15, 2005 #3


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    You can also learn a lot by hanging around here and browsing the relevant sections. I'll second Euler too- it's important to pursue something until you understand it and practice with it until you are comfortable. Just keep at it as your confidence is building. If you feel like you're at a disadvantage or need to catch up, fine, so just focus on what you need to do to start making progress. :smile:
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