I love reading Laughter, the Best Medicine, a column in Reader’s Digest magazine. I had a major chuckle because I really connected to this funny little story.
People with math anxiety actually feel pain when doing arithmetic, according to a study. The Week asked its readers to name this condition:
- Percentile Dysfunction (my personal favorite)
- Add Nauseum (what my meeting was like today)
My whole life was filled with math anxiety. It maybe started when I moved from one school district that was doing ‘new math’ in the 1960’s to another that favored ‘traditional curriculum’. Or it could have been my engineering father, who didn’t really get his ethereal or ‘spacey’ oldest child . I remember the only way I could get through those boring math facts was by drawing a face around number 10 and making a long side pony-tail to make her cuter. And on some days I would have Miss Nine and Mr. Eight marrying and having 17 children. Dad grew impatient with my inability to memorize. Simply put, my fingers really did serve me well back then. I also wanted him to share his slide rule with me, the secrets of the slide rule were very intriguing, how did it work? How could he get the right answer so quickly? Yeah, I’m old, it was years before the calculator, however, my grandma who was an accountant used this cool machine to make sure she was accurate at work.
Years of sweating and being yelled at…using my eraser with such vegenance that I’d rip holes in the middle of my long division problem.
Then came the peaceful years finally in high school. Geometry was the beautiful part of math for me….finally shapes and some sense of why I would maybe use some of these skills someday. I could buy into the theory that some day I might have to figure out the area of a room. I loved using rulers with precision. I loved to label and erase the lines after I had inked a word in my science class, labeling a body system.
Oh…those days…where was Greg Tang when I needed him? If you are not familiar Greg, he writes books about math. His leading best seller is The Grapes of Math. Last summer at a conference I attended he said,”We make math so hard for our kids.” Even though he is obviously brilliant, for the first time I felt that someone was speaking my language. The website that he created for children is exciting as well as great practice. Finally…at this late date, peace with my anxiety.
Here it is, if you want to play with numbers….thank you Greg Tang , the name the awesome game is Kakooma.