one step forward, two steps back

Those of you who know me in Los Angeles know that one of the various hats I wear while in grad school is as a math tutor. Yes, I am a math tutor slash geek. So you may wonder a few things.

1) What was your undergrad degree in?
2) Have you always been really good at math?
3) Do you have any formal training in teaching? Or even training in math?

Thankfully, these answers are pretty easy for me.

1) Christian education, public relations and Spanish. Yes, I’ve got the humanities wrapped up in a little box. But that does not include a science there, eh? No.

2) Maybe. I mean, good? Sure. Excellent? Ha, I hope? There was that day that Lynette and I were called into the guidance counselor’s office our junior year to be told that Mr. Laska was wanting us both to take AP Calc instead of regular Calc? (I didn’t, it required two math courses, and I needed my elective for my 5th year of Spanish/3rd yr of French). I was a Geometry tutor for Mr. Laska while I took it in 10th grade, of course. That was my first official income aside from babysitting and the motivating factor for getting a bank account, actually. That good ol’ MAC card. So, yes, perhaps I am a bit of a math nerd.

A random sidenote: it was during tutoring Geometry in high school that I was told that I might actually be kinda cool if I would just get drunk with their friends. They literally said, “I bet we’d be your friend if you would get drunk with us. You’re not that weird after all.” AWESOME.

3) Um, deceiving as my degree may be, I have little formal training in public education, unless you count the worthless educational psychology class I had my senior year second semester. The class I loved. Yeah. As for training in math? Silence speaks, right?

So my job tutoring is that I hang out with a bunch of students (a lot of girls) and convince them that math isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, one of my students now is telling me “math is great.” Granted, I have somewhat forced her into saying this as a way to make her laugh back when finals occured first semester and she’d given up. I told her I didn’t care if she didn’t learn a single math fact, as long as by the end of the year she could tell me that math was “great”! Two weeks ago her mom said to me, “you know, she actually is starting to like math? How’d you do that?” And did I mention she’s also learning exponentially? Education shouldn’t be scary.

Where did this math love come from, you ask? Yeah, great question. I think it may have started from my favorite PBS show as a preschooler.  Square One anyone? I tell you, when I was 4 years old I learned this song and I have NEVER forgotten the lyrics.

Nine Nine Nine
Fantastic number 9
It’s perfectly consistent
It works out every time
Nine Nine Nine
That crazy number 9
Times any number you can find
it all comes back to Nine

2 x 9 is 18
8 and 1 is nine
3 x 9 is 27
7 and 2 is nine

I just noticed on one of the websites that Square One’s target audience was 8-12 year olds. Funny. I was 4 when I was addicted. So yeah, maybe I am a wee bit of a math nerd. But creating more math nerds in the world? Removing fear of math? Yeah, that works for me.


2 responses to “one step forward, two steps back

  1. I loved Square One. Especially the music videos and Mathnet. I still sing Probability every now and then. Don’t think I could pick out a favorite Mathnet arc; I pretty much liked them all!

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