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Thinktress

The dreaded... MATH!

(Or as some of you seem to like to call it, Maths)

Ok. So... I've never felt very gifted at math. I was basically in a self-taught religious program (called paces) in high school and the math lessons were quite bad. So I completed the required math and graduated early and went to college.

And I was fine with all things math up through say... quadratic equations. I "got" all of that and I'm good with numbers and good in statistics. Geometry was also ok for the most part.

But. When professors started bringing things up like "imaginary numbers" and they couldn't really explain the concept to me, I was just completely turned off on the whole thing. Perhaps if any of them had spoken English... But anyway. So I had very little background in higher math. I managed to get myself through college algebra and that was it. And I promptly forgot much of that.

So now I'm back in school and I find math and science to be fairly intertwined and I'm doing a science thing. So I've decided to go back and actually learn higher math.

Anyway, I found this website with someone who actually can explain math to me in a way that makes complete and total sense. And it seems so easy to learn it now that I can understand what's going on. He talks down to the reader a little bit, since I think the website is geared towards all ages, but by God, at least he helps me understand why things are done the way they are done. And for me, that's how I learn. I understand something, then it's easy for me to retain it. So I thought I'd share just in case I'm not the only INTJ with Math phobia.

http://coolmath.com/0-math-help-lessons.html

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Hey, thanks! I can use that with our daughter. You wouldn't think a 7-yr old that things a Gardner book on Math puzzles is "cool" would be math-phobic, but by middle school she had a couple of the crappiest algebra teachers I've seen ever, so we're running her through math again at home just to get her ready for college level work. Especially since she's likely to go into a field that's heavy on biology and will require basic chem and physics also.

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bad, unmotivating teachers are one of my pet peeves. Good luck with your daughter. This site has made things a lot easier for me. It's funny, my son is majoring in math and engineering. He totally doesn't get my issues with it.

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Best strategy for me:

A.) Read or skim the textbook(Depending on whether or not the textbook is good or garbage). If the textbook is garbage then you will need to either rely on the lecture or outside sources to learn the material(Although if you were Isaac Newton then you wouldn't need any of this because you could teach the subject to yourself).

B.) If you don't understand what the teacher is saying or what the textbook is saying then this means that you need more practice. You don't learn math by watching someone else do it or by skimming over the textbook and (pretending) assuming you understand. You learn math by doing the problems in the textbook and seeing the patterns when the problem is changed slightly. This can be difficult for people who do not see patterns(For example when I go to the bathroom I usually daze off and start counting the tiles- I notice every single tile that is a different color than the tile right next to it and the exact size of every tile).

C.) Rinse/Repeat this strategy and eventually you will get better(Like many other things in life unless you have some absurd talent for learning mathematics instantly this sort of thing simply takes time). In the higher level mathematics courses(IE topology, analysis, I think) the problems are less of "Here is a triangle- go and find x" or "Find the derivative 5xsquared" sort of problems and more so proof based. The above strategy will not work for this- if I took these classes I would need to change my approach.

I am learning how to program in C++ right now(2 hours in) and I am very bad at it. In time with practice I will get much better.

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I don't understand why people (particularly Americans) use the word math. To my British ears and eyes it seems horribly wrong and I have never heard a British person use it.

I hate math = I hate mathematic = :(

I hate maths = I hate mathematics = :)

I am using the American Google Chrome web browser it is even saying the word math is incorrect and should be maths.

That being said English is an illogical language and as long as we know what the word means... who cares.

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I find that what usually gets me through math classes with As is my determination. It seems that other students are too embarrassed to ask questions and would rather finish the math with a less complete understanding.

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What kind of math are you actually needing to learn?

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Number theory is something I find fascinating in once sense, but obscure in another. The amount of work and thought necessary is so high. Exactly why are certain numbers distributed as they are? Why do certain relationships exist?. I can't help but feel there is something in there. A key to the universe. That if I could crack the mystery, I would have an insight into everything else. Anyone else have this feeling?

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Number theory is something I find fascinating in once sense, but obscure in another. The amount of work and thought necessary is so high. Exactly why are certain numbers distributed as they are? Why do certain relationships exist?. I can't help but feel there is something in there. A key to the universe. That if I could crack the mystery, I would have an insight into everything else. Anyone else have this feeling?

Actually, yes. Even though I've had my issues with math, I feel it is the basis for everything. Or IS everything, possibly. I mean, I get this concept in my core to the extent that I thought it was possibly some type of synesthesia on my part.

---------- Post added 05-12-2012 at 02:59 PM ----------

What kind of math are you actually needing to learn?

I was just having some issues with pieces of it, like understanding imaginary numbers, that sort of thing. But honestly, it just took finding someone who explained it well. I can learn anything once I understand the principles. If I don't understand something, though, I find it difficult to incorporate into my (whatever you want to call it - working database - for lack of a better term).

---------- Post added 05-12-2012 at 03:06 PM ----------

I don't understand why people (particularly Americans) use the word math. To my British ears and eyes it seems horribly wrong and I have never heard a British person use it.

I hate math = I hate mathematic = :(

I hate maths = I hate mathematics = :)

That's interesting. It's the exact opposite here. Mathematics = math (to us). In other words, math is short for the word mathematics. You either say, "math," or you say the entire word, "mathematics." Therefore, to say the word, "maths" seems odd to us. It's like hearing someone say mathematicses - like making something that is already plural, plural.

Thus, as frequently happens with English in the US, the formerly proper becomes the improper (here). Hey, we're a fast moving people. We like to shorten things (shrug).

But. I'm happy you explained that to me. Now I can just look past it as something that is proper in certain countries (the same way I look at the manner in which other countries still insert, "ae," instead of just, "e," in many words).

Edited by Thinktress

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someone here put up the link to KhanAcademy and I cannot express just how good the videos are. There are also lots of help videos searchable on youtube, too.

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In my experience, dislike of math usually really means that one's teachers are bad. The sad truth is that there are a lot of math teachers out there who simply aren't fit to be in a classroom. They haven't done or even seen a single shred of real mathematics and have no appreciation for where the field comes from or why it is important. Some of them probably even hate math too, and this feeling gets passed down to most of their students. Then some of those students will somehow become teachers and pass it down to their students, and so on. It's really quite a sad state of affairs.

I'd like to throw in an additional vote for Khan Academy. At first, I was very skeptical about how qualified the lecturer could be. (Usually when people say a math resource is good, it either means that it is a completely meaningless cookbook, or that it is extremely technical and dense and hard to learn out of.) However, after skimming through several of the videos, I've noticed that he talks through all of the concepts and then shows how to apply them. They're very good.

Best of luck to everyone.

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When I was in high school I hated math once I got to Algebra. The reason for that was I was told things like "I don't care if you have the right answer, how did you do it?" which didn't make sense, especially when I asked why it mattered I was told "because it does" and that's it.

It also didn't help that when I had procedural problems the teachers could only quote from the book which told me they didn't understand it and were just parroting.

Then, years later, I learned there are many different learning styles but each teacher only knows their own and will try to teach things that way. If your learning style doesn't match you are S.O.L.. Once I realized this I started asking around online and found people who could explain things to me in a way that made sense to me, then, math became not only understandable, but fun!

I'm now working on a degree in physics and am not only managing it, I'm enjoying it! Had anyone told me that in highschool I would have called them crazy.

It really is about your instructors. If they suck, you'll hate it. Find a good one and it becomes an entirely new experience.

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Math is like, you know, with numbers. I like that part.

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When I was in high school I hated math once I got to Algebra. The reason for that was I was told things like "I don't care if you have the right answer, how did you do it?" which didn't make sense

It is really rather hard to explain to a student why they should care about rigor. One good reason, even when explaining to people that don't care about rigor for rigor's sake, is that eventually your intuition is going to fail. You're either not going to have an intuitive answer available, or your intuition will be wrong. If you haven't been practicing going through step by step until then, you're not going to be able to get back up on your feet.

Conversely, if you've been sitting there obediently following instructions for many years, there's going to come a time when the instructions are too complicated to remember, and you need the intuition to properly grasp what's going on, even just to perform whatever procedure you're trying to perform. That intuition is frequently geometric, even when the underlying problem is fundamentally algebraic. For example, much of linear algebra starts out as being algebraic, but so very much geometry manifests itself as you study it.

It really is about your instructors. If they suck, you'll hate it. Find a good one and it becomes an entirely new experience.

I agree with this.

Edited by Latro

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Unlike JMD^^ I don't like numbers. I like the part with the greek letters. Alpha? Alpha your ass! Beta? Beta not be jiving me! Math is for for party rocking. Big time. Say, know how do you say "big time" in math?

[HIDE=BIG TIME]BIGTIME.jpg [/HIDE]

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I enjoy math. Being comfortable with it opens up so many areas of human thought to your understanding.

Also, I like the videos on this blog, especially "Doodling in Math Class: Snakes + Graphs":

http://vihart.com/doodling/

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