29 January, 2014

them's the numbers and the numbers they don't lie

i like to think of myself as an intelligent person. i maintain this opinion by the cunning use of selective comparison, by surrounding myself with intelligent people and finally, through careful and almost entirely successful math avoidance. sadly, this term has brought into my life a class with the charming name "analytical methods for planners" that is almost entirely math and statistics based.

despite the fact that i got top marks in my high school math courses (though even then i did not enjoy them), i balked when faced with calculus, and have since maintained a semi-mythical Fear of Numbers. i am now realising how stupid it was for me to keep feeding this semi-fictional account of things, because it has been proven by my marks (granted, a great many years and an even greater number of brain cells ago) that i can indeed do this shit, and the fear that has since grown does nothing to help me overcome the assignments that i must overcome. my primary reaction is awed astonishment that someone would be so cruel, followed in short order by panic. not surprisingly, this does not help the situation at all, but it has over the years become my default setting.

so whenever i get too big for my britches, and all sorts of intellectually snarky, be so kind as to remind me of the fact that i am mathematical anti-genius. one look at me and c last week trying to scale some maps would have left you laughing uncomfortably (or shaking your collective heads* in dismay). it was to the point where we were considering removing our boots and socks to get at toes to add to the fingers necessary for the calculations. eventually we gave up and i forced mister monkey to try to get this stuff through my head over the weekend…semi-successfully.

i feel rather strongly that if i hadn't made it one of my "things," this fear of math, then my attitude would have remained more open, thereby allowing in a greater understanding. i mean, i don't have to love it, but it sure would be nice not to be reduced to slack-jawed terror at the sight of excel or a scale work sheet. looks like the buffoonery has come home to roost.

*great band name, no? "collective heads"


Tom said...

Mathematics is in the mind; and so is fear. Basically, mathematics is largely about following procedures. It is a tool, like a Swiss army knife, with many useful blades. Of course you need to choose which blade to use, but......

I know this is of no real help, but mathematics, certainly at the lower levels, is not the fearsome monster that so many people assume it to be. You don't even need to be above average intelligence to 'do it'.

Zhoen said...

As long as you don't twist numbers somewhere between you eyes and brain and hands, there is a satisfaction making them dance. Unfortunately, they transform somewhere in the process for me, can't remember a phone number without checking mid-dial at least twice, and still get it wrong more often than not. I actually like mathematics, it's the arithmetic that foxes me.

Geneviève Goggin said...

I hear you. Although math was one of my favourite subjects all through school, I now have an irrational fear if all things financial. I should get over it one of these days. Just not right this minute.