Monday July 23, 2018

Uyboco: My Love-Hate Relationship with Math (Part 1)

I WASN’T a bad math student. I had a pretty good understanding of it in my elementary years, but I wasn’t that fast in operations. I had trouble memorizing the multiplication table at the higher digits. If you asked me to do 8x7 for example, I would still have to tick off the multiples of 8 on my fingers: 8, 16, 24...and so on until I got to my seventh finger, then write down the answer -- I would do that all the way till high school.

I remember that at the start of every year since around grade 4 or 5, I would have trouble remembering how to perform certain operations like adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing fractions and decimals, or how to get the least common denominator (LCD) and how that was different from getting the greatest common factor (GCF).

Despite that, I was chosen to be one of a handful of “math-gifted” students in sixth grade though I didn’t really feel all that gifted. Looking back now, they must have been pretty desperate. We were asked to cut short our lunch break and come in 30 minutes earlier for special lectures on advanced topics. Again, looking back, was that really a reward or punishment for being “gifted”?

I don’t remember much from those classes except that I struggled to keep up and that it highlighted what I hated most about math -- word problems. In all my elementary years, I never understood how to solve a word problem. There was no step 1, 2, 3 to it. At least when multiplying fractions, as long as you memorize the steps, you had a pretty good chance of getting the right answer.

But word problems frustrated me.SEE MORE