Algebra, you (expletive)

First, a question: Who reading this, who’s a non-engineer, uses algebra on a regular basis? I know accountants do occasionally, but I don’t think they use calculus, which is Step 2 after algebra. So I want to know. If you can give me a really convincing argument as to why I, as an administrative assistant, would need to know algebra, I would deeply appreciate it as it would give me a reason to know the stuff.

My emotions are kind of all over the place right now. Yesterday I got the grade back on a math test and I did HORRIBLY. And not in that “I’m used to getting A’s and I didn’t get an A” sort of way, but in that “holy cow, not only did I not pass, I not passed with flying colors and dive-bombing and flames with tire-burning type smoke” Apparently the rest of the class did the same because the instructor was all “Well. You guys weren’t prepared. I’ll let you retake the test after you do an hour with a tutor.” So I have an appointment with a tutor next Tuesday, which is the earliest time I could get one. Also #4 said he would help study. It’s not as though she (the instructor) doesn’t show us how to do stuff, she does, I guess I’m just thick in the head-Algebra Style.

90s school pete and pete pete pete the adventures of pete and pete

Thing is, that horrible grade threw me for a real loop. I actually felt pretty confident about the test, like I knew what I was doing. Discovering that I didn’t was a real hit to my ego, and that tiny voice in my head kicked in with all kinds of commentary. Stuff like:

“Who are you kidding? You can’t do this.” and

“What makes you think you’re competent enough to actually work a real job?” and

“Loser. All you’re cut out for is being a stupid housewife.”  I balked at that one because being a housewife isn’t the easiest, especially with a bunch of kids. But you also don’t have to go to school for it, nor do algebra. Thankfully.

That voice is a pretty powerful force, and the rest of my day was spent moping in a funk, feeling very discouraged about my future prospects and feeling like an abject failure. Also I cleaned out the utility room and gathered up all the clothes that no longer fit (I’ve lost ~40 pounds over the past 18 months), and that was mildly therapeutic, though the voice kept reminding me that one doesn’t usually make a living bagging up one’s oversized clothes.

The voice is an asshole.

A a couple (or three) episodes of Star Trek, a bit of junk food, and a good night’s sleep have remedied The Voice issue, and I woke up feeling more confident. Not only am I determined to rein in the Algebra Beast, I *WILL* find decent work when I move…or at least I will be doing what God intends for me to do, whatever that may be. I hope it will involve using this associates degree in business, but if not, then at least I will know how to use Excel and speak politely on the phone. And edit things.  God has seen me safely thus far, and if there is hardship ahead, then there is, and I’ll manage. If there’s work and a measure of success, then there is and I will celebrate and be grateful for it.

The good news is, I seem to be doing well in Excel, the next hardest class. The instructor watches me do the things, and gives me the grade, even when the online thing through which we do the things dislikes my methods (although the end result is correct) and refuses to grade me for them. He agrees with me that once I’m in the workplace doing the Excel, there will be no one who cares about the method, only the end result.

So, I’ve been feeling kind of picked on by the Universe, which is selfish and silly. because

A. I’m not special, and there are others picked on far, far worse.  and

B. Life is what you make of it. I refuse to allow a completely impartial thing with no brain and no subjectivity (that is, Math) to control my mood. I shall endeavor to persevere.




About rootietoot

I do what I can.
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9 Responses to Algebra, you (expletive)

  1. Bella Rum says:

    Better you than me. Basic math will do for any of my needs. I’m awed by your tenacity.

  2. jerseechik says:

    Didn’t you say Algebra was helpful for Excel?
    If the whole class bombed, the teacher’s got a problem, imo. (I’m expecting the teacher to come in next week and confess that he/she used the wrong answer key or something.)

    Did Khan Academy make the topic any clearer?

    • rootietoot says:

      Some of the problems on the test I don’t remember learning anything about, but chalked it up to my own shortcomings. Perhaps it was her fault. Either way, I’m getting a tutor and taking the test again.

  3. I can honestly say not once since I graduated high school ( 91) have I ever used algebra. Which is a good thing because I failed it spectacularly every class. The extent to which I failed impressed my teachers. You know you suck at algebra when even your teachers are rendered speechless and can only stare in awe at your paper. Well, a mixture of horror and awe. I made them question their competence as educators ( she said smugly. If I’m going to have self esteem issues surrounding math, I’m taking them down with me) I’m like an idiot savant in algebra, only without the savant. I can fail at it better than anyone on the planet. So chin up. You’ll never be as bad as me. If hell exists, I’d bet good money that it involves algebra.

  4. Judy says:

    Khan Academy is a good idea!! And I agree IF the whole class bombed then there is some instructor issues, especially considering you were feeling confident. Now as for everyday uses of algebra, yes I do use it some, I’m an accountant, BUT you used it in managing a household. Maybe not big time algebra but still some, maintaining a budget, setting a budget, balancing a checkbook, in the grocery store while determining best size to purchase for the value (price per oz.), figuring discounts while shopping determining whether it really was a good deal or not, couponing. Now maybe it was more simple types things that you did in your head but it was still more than just simple math.

  5. Pamela S White says:

    As a “jack of all trades kind of Executive Administrative Asst type” No, I have never had the need for Algebra, I hate it with a passion, have also redone the college math-algebra class by computer over at Southern Union. That was do-able. As for excel…I took the basic of basic classes back in 97 and I guess I got a start. But I think you will love it when you get into a work place. I prefer it over WORD if that’s possible! Columns and Rows and Pivot tables (which I finally got to work with this month!!!) I think you’ll love to play in it! Yeah, school is nothing but headstart for grownups. haha

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