It’s like a never ending puzzle, doing math problems. There’s always another problem, always another bunch of numbers to fiddle with. Numbers are infinite, and so are the possibilities.
My dad was a math teacher. In point of fact, his college degree was in Mathematics. He was good at it. And he loved to help people, and especially kids, learn to do math.
I was only ever an average math student, when all was said and done. My dad helped me from time to time, especially when I was younger, up through middle school. Then he’d provide less, hands-on guidance as I got older; he encouraged me to ask my teachers questions, which I did; only once in a while would my dad give me reassurance on my thinking about particular math problems, verifying (and gently correcting some of my) ideas on how to solve, etc.; all together, that got me the rest of the way through. But again, I feel I was just about an average student of math.
The thing was…is…it really comes down to patience, and concentration. Whether I’m doing algebra from back in the day (and even today, if I had to), or compiling number data for reports at work, that’s what it comes down to.
Patience and Concentration. And taking things one step at a time. Patience, and Patience, and then add a little more besides. As we all know, sometimes patience isn’t the easiest thing to come by.
In fact, of late I’ve been thinking back to my old man helping me, HIS endless patience with me as I worked to wrap my head around concepts old and new.
I think back to how I’d get frustrated doing math problems. And as I recall, it was wanting to rush through problems, rushing to get the answer, instead of taking things step by step, that’s what tripped me up.
And so thinking back, and also considering the math I do now, it’s all about applying patience, and concentration, and breaking it down.
Now, if I can only help my kids in some small measure the way my dad helped me.
Bonus: One of my favorite formulas, though I can’t rightly say I can remember why. : – ) The Quadratic Equation