Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who knew I needed to learn Chinese?

So even though there is little or no mention of it in the course catalog, it turns out that for at least two (possibly three or four) of the required classes for the MA program I signed up for require a working knowledge of calculus.

So, yeah, FAIL!

Now, I know I'll be accused of being over-dramatic, or people will continue as they have been to tell me that it will "all work out" and that I "just need a little help".


It's not that I'm ungrateful for the attempts at pepping me up, its just that I am aware of my own failings.

Math is one of them. A big one.

In every other subject I've ever studied, I've always had that "eureka" moment, that moment when things fell into place and suddenly I understood what I was learning.

Not so with math.

Ever since I can remember it has been immensely difficult, from my multiplication tables up to the basic trig I got forced into in high school. Math has always been a struggle, a constant reworking of problems that I constantly got wrong, wrestling with concepts that slid away from my comprehension like ice off a hot griddle.

That would have been ok, I guess. Everyone has something they find difficult, nigh impossible to get. For some its literature, for some its history, for others its science, and for some its languages. Fine.

But the thing is, because I was an exceptionally good student, not only was I not allowed to simply coast through math with a high D (I was one of those kids who if I went home with an A got asked why I hadn't managed an A+), but it was simply assumed that not only would I be good at math, but that I'd like it as well.

I don't. I have full on panic-attacks when faced with equations. Hell, I've given up asking people to tutor me because I always wind up yelling at them.

Which just piled shit on top of the dung sandwich I had to chew every time a required math class raised its head.

After failing (miserably, repeatedly) at the last basic algebra class I had in 1997, I purposely and successfully avoided all math-related study, and I did very well.

After all, its not like math is something I use a lot in my daily life. I've never encountered an instance where my fiances were complicated enough to justify the use of a spreadsheet, and hence never learned how to use one. I've never (outside of mandatory math classes) had to solve an equation for anything.

And now its come back to haunt me.

Thing is, I'm still getting the same assumptions. "Oh, you're a smart guy, this will be no problem for you!" they say. "Don't worry, with a little extra help you'll do fine!"

Don't even get me started on how much I hate it when people say "just..." and "simply...." before launching into a spiel of what for me might as well be Mandarin.

I mean, yeah, you can learn Chinese literature without speaking Chinese, in translation. But you can't just expect someone in a Chinese lit class to then magically be able to compose poetry in Mandarin.

Which brings me to my point.

If you are going to have upper-level math a pre-requisite fine. But you should FUCKING TELL PEOPLE BEFOREHAND!

If I had known that calculus was a requirement for this program, I would have either A: not gone into this program, or if I thought it worth the time and effort B: gone back to some remedial night-school for 4 years or so until I could at least fake competence in the subject.

Instead I've essentially wasted most of my tuition and book money on a course of study that I cannot complete to any sort of decent standard without a further massive investment in time, money, and effort.

All to learn enough math to pass a required course so that I can go on to pursue studies in largely non-mathematical fields.


If we let "x" equal my chances of passing this class as things stand, and "y" equal the amount of effort necessary to ensure passing the class, we get

[(x+job+stress+failure)/(y+costs+stress+years of study to the power of N)}

if we then graph that on the chart, you'll find the answer is right between "fuck"to the power of "ing" and "no" to the power of "way".

Adding a z axis to locate this point in three-dimensional space yeilds a location right next to a snowball in hell.