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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

My Life as a Mathematician

The Kahn Academy

I was always excellent at math, and I loved it.  In high school, I took it through Calculus.  Since I only went to a community college, I didn't need any math for my degree unless I was deficient.  When I went to take the placement tests, the woman in charge saw my transcript and told me not to take the math section because it was an insult to my accomplishments.  Even though it was required, I didn't take it and no one made me.

I ended up in a career that involved a lot of math, but not at a very high level.  Most was just arithmetic and some word problems.  I came to excel at the word problems that came my way at my job. and it was fun to try to solve them by turning them into algebraic equations.  (By the way, I was a printing estimator.)

I have loved math my whole life, and I even credit it for allowing me to retire early.  Knowing how math works, compounding interest and the "rule of 72" encouraged me to save and invest.

Then I retired--and found out I didn't miss my job, but I missed dealing with math every day.

In January, I signed up at the Kahn Academy website.  It is a free service that is for students in high school and below.  It has all kind of math courses.  There are videos covering everything and tests.  I described it to my niece, and she said it is a form of "mastery learning," and it has been found to be the most effective way to learn things.

I started with Algebra.  I mastered Algebra Basics and then Algebra I.  Much of it I remembered or almost remembered, but quite a bit of it seemed foreign--and it was tough.

Next came High School Geometry.  The early parts of it were pretty simple, but then it got very tough.  I am 98 percent finished with it.  From Geometry, it was a natural transition to go the Trigonometry.  I didn't remember any of it from High School.  Still, with hard work, I am 73 percent complete.  From there, I many work on Algebra II some more.  I am at 44 percent, there.  Eventually, I will tackle Calculus, and I am sure that will be as tough as can be.

Yes, I am a math nerd, and I can't believe how much fun I am having doing this.

If you know any students who are struggling with math, please, please direct them to the Kahn Academy--it is an awesome way to learn--and it really is free!

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