Sometime in late April, I was whining to an instructor about the school’s requirement for algebra, and how I’d not used it in 30 years, and was I really going to need it or was this an arbitrary nod toward “education”. He proceeded to spend 10 minutes explaining an assortment of algebraic (whatever they’re called…functions?) thingies that are regularly used in business practices. He wrote them on the board, showing what each variable meant and how it was used and why. Then he went to an Excel spreadsheet and carried on with the explanation. FINALLY! A real reason WHY I needed to know this stuff and not just a vague “well, because I said so” from an administrator. Why can’t they do this from the start?
Later on, I complained to my brother (a mechanical engineer who does Big Math all the time) and to my son (an electrical engineering student who also does Big Math all the time), and was lectured (politely, not aggressively) about how algebra is a foundational building block upon which all higher math is built, and if you plan to do anything more complicated than an Excel spreadsheet, it is vital to know this. Just like it is really important to know which way the grain lies on a fabric in order to properly construct a garment. (that’s my own personal analogy, because I love those things)
So, on Monday I start with the first math class since 1983. It is a remedial (“we don’t call it that because it has uncomfortable connotations for many of our students”) algebra, because in spite of all attempts via Great Courses (which helped) and Khan Academy and some tutoring by the resident post-many-algebra-classes student, my desiccated math lobe is rejecting all attempts to revive it. I am worried for my flawless GPA, but also know that it isn’t the determining factor in my ability to be a productive member of society. I do, however, want to know this stuff should I ever have to write grant proposals and be able to prove the need for X amount of funds to keep Y-non-profit’s head above Z water.
This semester, the business administration rubber is hitting the educational road. The last 2 were kind of (what I think of) *soft* courses. Sitting in the classroom discussing stuff was pretty much what happened. This time, it’s the Hard Stuff. I’m taking an Excel course- which I sort of kind of know how to do a spreadsheet, but this will get into the nitty gritty of it, with all the fancy bells and whistles you can do with the magical spreadsheet program. Also, an Office Procedures course, not sure what that covers but the textbook came yesterday and I’m eyeing with with some suspicion because it looks fairly technical. For fun, and because I need a soft course upon which to lay my math-weary head, there’s a Leadership class, which is another Applied Psychology sort of thing. I blew that last applied course clean out of the water and enjoyed the heck out of it, so hopefully this one will be equally interesting.
While technically my “major” (can you call it that in a 2 year program? It’s not a Bachelor’s degree) is Business Management, I’m taking all my electives in Administration stuff like the Excel and the Procedures courses. I want to take the Quickbooks and the Documents classes and might also take the independent Photoshop class (a 3 day thing in the evening), because you can’t know too much and if I can say I’m proficient in all these things that can only be good. I’d like to work either for a small business or a non-profit, so being able to manage and administrate would be helpful.
So here goes. Math. Computer stuff (I’m ok with a computer, but need hand-holding for more complicated stuff. On the other hand, I can rock the 5-D embroidery program which is every bit as complicated as the Excel thing, but it gives me something pretty when I’m done. I guess I’ll need to learn to find satisfaction with columns and rows working out.)
Dear Himself, I miss you. I miss the days when the hard decisions were tempered by someone else’s input and when life got heavy you helped me carry the load. It’s ok, though. I’m doing fine and it’s kind of like missing the days when I was a kid and the most complicated decision was whether or not to put a slice of salami on my tomato sandwich.