The Pain Down in Algebra


My bride would have classes each day for our kids as they were growing up called “Mommie School” after their regular school day was over.  In questions of History, Political Science or the teachings of the Church I was eager to serve as a resource.  Math? Never! Never! Never!

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  1. It was the other way around for me. After the second grade, oldest daughter would advise younger siblings–if it’s about math, ask dad; mother doesn’t know anything about math. (She was the historian, Medieval, almost Ph.D.)

  2. Sorry. As an electrical engineer, I can’t relate. Algebraic gymnastics is just something to do to get to the answer, it’s not even real math, it’s just algebra.
    I’ve always thought this way maybe that’s why all four of my children are Artists: illustration, graphic art, cinematography and musician. 😉

  3. I’m the “Oh, yeah, right… let’s look at the examples in the book” guy.
    Translated this means “What???” I have no idea”
    It usually works, we figure them out together.

  4. The truth is that I never learned mathematics – algebra, geometry, trigonometry, calculus – until I attended US Naval Nuclear Power School back in 77, and was told that if I failed to calculate estimated critical rod position correctly, then the reactor would stay shutdown and I had better learn to breathe sea water. Funny thing how motivated I became at that point.

    Every thinking person should be mathematically literate – not expert, just literate.

    PS, David above has a valid point: “Algebraic gymnastics is just something to do to get to the answer, it’s not even real math, it’s just algebra.”

  5. I like algebra– it’s just a code, it’s a system. You don’t have to memorize anything but what the symbols mean, and most of the time it’s just saying “do a really simple thing a whole bunch of times.” (So, 5^2 is 5*5, which is just 5+5+5+5+5.)
    I need paper, though. 😀
    The Duchess is pretty dang good at math, for a six year old…the Princess is attempting to measure inches on the centimeter side of a ruler, and will randomly forget that a 1 in the tens place isn’t a 1 in the one’s place….

  6. Algebra is beautiful! It even helped me get over my antipathy to geometry, via analytical geometry.

    A couple of math jokes, from math magazines.

    Seen on a restroom wall in Princeton: “2 + 2 = 5, for large values of 2”
    (This avoids the 1984 overtones only by remembering that ‘2’ is not just a number but also a numeral, a symbol)

    A student for his final had a single math problem that filled an entire bluebook. When he got to the end he realized he had made a mistake, the answer was twice what it should have been. There was no time to find the answer, so he wrote “…then for obvious reasons we divide by 2, yielding…” He pulled it off!

  7. Algebra for shopping! Ha! Do at your own risk!

    Years ago I was shopping with my wife. She asked me which of the two brands of toilet paper was the better buy. I did the math in under a minute and found they were both $0.0066 per foot per ply! Intrigued, I checked all the others and every one was the same! I knew then that these were the result of very important careers in product differentiation. My wife pretended to not know who I was.

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