Thursday, May 07, 2009

Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies

Well, this semester is over for me, and may I say it was a hairy one. Even though I took only one class!

The original idea had been to take a full semester so I can finish up and graduate since Big Kid is no longer living at home demanding my undivided attention 24/7. But then I got sick late last fall and all bets were off. Decided to take just one pre-requisite class---algebra---that won't even count towards my degree or GPA.

When that's out of the way, I can take math-for-people-who-are-crappy-at-math for credit (aka Math for the Liberal Arts). Go figure.

In hindsight, it seems like the decision was providential, because having the opportunity and then going through all the steps of getting THD here probably would have put me on stress overdrive if I was taking a full class-load.

And what the class. I'd gotten an A in pre-algebra a few semesters before. I also took algebra in high school and did quite well. It wouldn't be easy or enjoyable, but I'd get through.

Famous last words.

When I got my first assignment, which was a review of pre-algebra, I felt a little uneasy. I didn't remember some of the terminology. I had to brush up on a few processes. At my second assignment, the sh*t really hit the fan.

It was like reading Greek. I didn't understand ANY of it.

So I engaged a tutor---a retired middle school teacher. We had a few sessions where she walked me through the basics of Algebra and I limped through the next few assignments and tests.

Then we hit graphing equations. I couldn't make heads or tails of it beyond recognizing quadrants. My textbook, unlike the ones you get in high school, only just brushed on the directions, and there was nothing intensive about it. I showed it to my tutor.

She was perplexed. Mind you, the woman is about 70 years old. She borrowed my book overnight and then called me the next day. "They didn't teach this when I was in college, and I'd really hate to take your money."

Well crud. Three days before my assignment was due, I emailed my instructor (this is an online course), showed him my work (which was all wrong) and told him I was struggling and needed some help. I needed someone to walk me through this verbally---not on paper, because I just wasn't understanding this process at all by reading it.

The day AFTER the assignment was due he emailed me back.

"You only finished 2 of the 7 sections of the assignment and will be graded accordingly."

What? You have got to be sh*tting me! I'm paying twice the rate to take this class online and I can't even get a "what do you seem to be having trouble with" response from this guy?

In desperation I emailed and called and left a message for a friend of mine. She is a high school math instructor (who recently got her Masters, the smartypants). The funny thing is that I've never actually met her in person. We met about 10 years ago in an adoption forum and have been phone and email pals ever since.


I didn't hear from her for a couple of days, and then it occurred to me that it might be Spring Break in her neck of the woods. Sure enough, she called me the next night.

"I got your message. Is everything ok?"

I didn't recognize the number on my caller ID. Where are you?

"I'm in Paris!! It's 4 o'clock in the morning and I just checked my messages!! I'm having champagne!"

Oh. My. Gosh. But where are you calling from? This isn't your cell number.

"No, my cell is charging. I'm calling from the hotel phone."

Holy crap! Call me when you get back to the states!

What a good friend she is. She got me through the last four weeks of class so I don't have to take the damn thing over again. :-)

On a more serious note, I'm worrying about my brain. Algebra is cumulative, and while I remembered and was able to do some processes, there were some blocks that were completely unintelligible to me. Then I could go on and do the next harder skill set, although I couldn't do the easier one. Very weird.

I can't figure out if I'm suffering from the normal CRS that comes with aging, or if maybe I had some drain bamage from oxygen deprivation when I was sick.

I guess I should just feel lucky as long as I can remember which shoe goes on which foot.

Oh, and I left an appropriate evaluation at the end of the course for my instructor. No warm fuzzies for him. Hmph.


Beth said...

Another hurdle “hurdled.” Congrats to you and an additional “hmph” to your prof.
Don’t worry about your brain – as always, you are as sharp as a tack.

Love the bunny picture. ;)

ntsc said...


If you still have the e-mail exchange with your 'professor' copy his/her Dean and complain, loudly.

I've taught in college, as an adjunct, and that sort of behavior needs to be squashed.

Brenda said...

I know you're glad it's over! I think it must be a "getting older" thing. I couldn't not remember how to multiply and divide mixed fractions the other night and had to bone up on it in order to help with homework!

Frau said...

Congrats on even making the step to go back to college.I am an idiot at Math I try to help my 9th grader with her homework and I couln't. havent been able to help her in math for years.

Yellow Trash Diaries said...

When I went back to school (the first time) I took Algebra twice- and I'm Oriental! (Which is supposed to give me an inborn advantage, right? Well, there's one for Nurture in the ongoing debate vs. Nature) In school, if I could write an essay I breezed through it- math was always a bore. In other words, I guess I'm good if I can bullshit my through it.

Anonymous said...

Algebra? Now you've really lost me!!


mrsb said...

Math is completely different than when I was in school. I've never been a big math person (give me a 700 page book and I'll read it in two days, but don't ask me to add in my head, lol).

I practically have to research the math that my son is learning in middle school. I have no idea what's going on.

Cloudy said...

How harrowing, I would panic! It is normal to forget, however. I am lucky if I can add & subtract at this point. I am thinking of relearning from scratch along with my son when he starts school.

Pete said...

well done attila, and what a nice lady calling you from paris. and what a wally the instructor is

Anonymous said...

Well, as the Jimmy Buffett song states.........."Math Sucks". Glad it's over for you.

ntsc said...

I've news for you math, science and engineering courses are easy. That is why we engineers take them,

Anonymous said...

I hate math, I think that is why I married David, because he started his career as a math teacher! Actually, that back fired as when he tried to teach me, he would get so frustrated with me (I just couldn't process it) that I was better off with a real tutor, not a husband tutor. So glad it is behind me, except when my middle school students ask for help with their assignments.

Having said all that, congratulations! So glad it is behind you and I'm glad you had an opportunity to give feedback on that horrible professor.


MoonNStarMommy said...

I think you got brain damage from math.. I know I would!!

CONGRATS on getting through it though!!!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Dang, Hats off to you for even attempting algebra! You're more daring than me!!! And your prof sucked :-)

Stinkypaw said...

He doesn't deserve any fuzzies and you have some good friend for her to call you back from Paris! ;-)

Glad you made it thru it all!

Rootietoot said...

I thought about going to college, but when I found out I'd have to take algebra I changed my mind and spent the money on disability insurance for my husband instead. You have my immense admiration for doing it.

Angela said...

glad you made it throug.

You have been thrugh much more lately it is good you only had one class

Liesl said...

I'd contact the dean and let him or her know about instructor not doing his job. That's total bullshit and it pisses me off!

imfunnytoo said...

Math has always been a great, dark intractable forest for me, so it's great that you finally got the help you needed (but stoopid that you had to get a return call from bloody *Paris* for the help (Your friend was great though, for doing that