# Why You Suck at Math

## Do you REALLY suck at math?

Or do you just hate the way math is taught in schools?

Most people who think they are bad at math have simply been damaged by the school system.

Schools teach math as a "subject" that they use to club you into submission with, using tests.

Mathematics, on the other hand, is an elegant world full of romance and art, patterns and insights, which is driven by a combination of imagination and utility.

Does that sound like what you learned about in school? I'll bet not!

## Some thoughts about why schools suck at teaching math

### There is a higher percentage of teaching disabled schools than learning disabled kids

Today I read a blurb that said there are studies that show that grades in math start dropping in middle school.

I think that is a case of bullshit statistics. ("Never trust any statistics that you haven't falsified yourself."- Old German saying)

The grades may drop, but that is only because the methods of grading are different.

It is really hard to grade in elementary schools. They are under intense pressure to "get kids through the door" in order to suck up to the "No Child Left Behind" act. It's easy for a teacher or administrator to close their eyes and hope for the best, when all a child is expected to do is maybe be able to add and do simple multiplication to pass a test.

Familiar scene:

Teacher: "Johnny, what is six times nine?"

Johnny: "Uh, forty-eight?"

Teacher: "You mean fifty-four, right?"

Johnny: "Yeah, right!"

Teacher: "Correct, six times nine is fifty-four. Good, Johnny!"

You see how easy it is for teachers to fool themselves? And can you blame them with all the pressure they are under? (Well, yeah, you can, actually.)

I have had lots of teachers tell me how good their students are at math, only to have them not be able to tell me what 7 times 8 is. Or even what 7 plus is 8. It's pathetic.

In middle school, though, when teachers try to teach these kids algebra, or even long division, the teachers freak out at how little the pupils had learned in the younger grades. The grades drop, only because they'd been so inflated before.

Familiar scene:

Teacher: "Johnny, what is the ratio of the sides of a right triangle to the hypotenuse?"

Johnny: "How the (expletive deleted) should I know, man?"

See how it's a little harder to give Johnny a break on this one?

I think this kind of phenomenon explains more about the "drop" in grades in middle school than actual math ability.

What do you think?

## Math Doesn't Suck!

### Finally, the truth can be told! And by whom better than an cool actress and mathematician, Danica McKellar?

Actress Danica McKellar is probably best known for playing the part of Winnie, "the girlfriend" on "The Wonder Years" in the eighties. It was a brilliant show, and now she has written what promises to be a brilliant book. With the subtitle, "How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail," Ms. McKellar offers help and advice that most girls need. Most boys need it as well, but she is targeting her group well, because, well ... duh.

Math shouldn't have to be a gender issue, but unfortunately society has generally.

For much more info, check out my lens at Math Doesn't Suck

There is also an interesting post on the God Plays Dice blog.

## Great YouTube vid about the No Child Left Unstressed Act (NCLB) - This Law was made by morons. How can anyone trust morons to make education policy?

Did you suck at math at one time, and them improved? Tell us how you did it. Do you have any helpful hints for others? Let us know!

Do you have any problems that you just can't seem to get over concerning your feelings about math? Let us help you!

(Unfortunately, I mistakenly deleted the previous guestbook. My apologies to all who commented. Please try again .)

## Got a story? - Tell us about your experiences with math, good or bad.

Math I don't want to solve your problems

I have my own problems to solve

I suck at math now and always have. I just took Calc 2 at Texas A&M and though I studied 9 hours a day for that one class I ended up with a friggin D in the class overall. It is the school system and there is no way around it. I am a member of MENSA and still could bearly pass this class. I remember in 3rd grade how the teachers didn't even make us memorize the multiplication tables (Harris County Texas) and I still have to fact check myself as a 26 year old when doing BASIC multiplication. The system is flawed and brilliant people are convicted they are idiots because they suck in math even though they can be drunk and write an A paper for any subject known to man.

I agree with this. BUT Im a junior in college, and STRUGGLING with math. I can remember since the 7th grade I never had a math teacher. We had a supervisor sit in the room and ALL the work was done on computers. So it was easily temping to cheat, or lie to the supervisor about "I did the work but i didn't save, this is BS it happens all the time" and she'd give us a decent grade. Don't we go to school to learn, and to be taught? Ive had to struggle and teach myself math since i was about 13. Im now 24 and to this day in college math classes having to teach myself things, because, hell, no professor is going to sit down just for me, and the ones who have had no idea why I didn't understand it. Its like we are supposed to know these things. But how, when now a days we learn it ourself...

I, 100%, agree with this. In my situation, I took a calculus course in highschool. I wound up with an 88 in the class, which was pretty darned good. I took a year off before university. Now, I'm taking the same bloody material but can't, for the life of me, figure it out at all. It's all familiar but the instructor is terrible. Eventually, along with half the class, I stopped going to the lectures.

I think the problem stems from their time proving why an equation exists. They spend no time showing us how to use an equation and, as such, when we reach an assignment, it is incredibly frustrating. I've been doing some self-teaching, but it isn't going well. I think this may be my only math class, so I hope I make it out alive.

I just made a lens about Addition, Subtraction, Mutiplication, Division and I wanted opinions about it.

@ Homunculus. Certainly teaching methods have improved greatly since then and any qualified teaching professional knows this. They now understand that our left/right brain lobes do not process information in the same manner... left brain vs. right brain thought processing. People who are predominantly right brained thinkers do not process information the same way left lobe thinkers do. They tend to be more on the creative or artistic side and more apt to process things more slowly because they must dissect and absorb more information about a process to completely understand its processes.

I strongly believe it's all in the methods of teaching which entails understanding different methods in the way people learn and visualize. Wayyyyy back in the day..... when I was a sophomore in high school I took business mathematics. My grades were severely suffering and I experienced my first ever "D" and was nearly failing. The math teacher we had was going on maternity leave during mid semester break. A college student on a student internship filled in for her during the next few months. A few short weeks after the substitute took over my grades went from nearly failing to consistently achieving A s and B s. It was clearly the teaching methods. Absolutely no doubt in my mind.

I hate math, once 5th grade came it just started going downhill from there, I'm like "wtf I going on" and if you don't pay attention for more than 3 minutes your lost, and the way the # r all over the place it's insane, I had one good math teacher freshmen year but only one semester unfortunately......

True to the ole' song--I started sucking at math in middle school, passed high school algebra, and then flunked geometry. And then flunked geometry again.

To do this day I have no idea what they were talking about--and could not do proof to save my life.

Example: Me: I thought you said to do it this way.

Teacher: Oh, not that one.

I did pass a number of college math courses, but not calculus and all that hard stuff.

Lesson learned? Stop beating your head against a math wall and get on with your life.

Regrets? I've had a few--but then again...

At least the stress headaches stopped!

The Sage of Wake Forest

Hello!

I took my GED in 2008 which seemed like the trillionth time(Sp)?! I passed all but the math until 08. I had a fantastic GED Tutor instructor he showed me the greatness of it and even tho I thought I failed I actually passed! However, I don't remember any of it. I started college that following winter in Jan. I took an entrance exam and failed the math miserably! I had to be put through pre-algebra class twice! I failed twice, I changed my major to something that didn't need that. But, I feel I have suckered myself. So how do I begin to even grasp any thought or recollection that sweet person taught me?

math make me cry every time

@anonymous: i totally feel that way. It's so competitive now a days and not having a skill in math sux so bad.

i remember being very good in math in ... 1st grade. after that i've sucked so bad and I still do! i'm a college student and the math college algebra was a nightmare. pre-cal and calculus i'm totally pushing it aside, but i know that eventually i'm going to have to take those courses. My sister is a math tutor and I just don't understand how she gets it so well and i don't :( I HATE MATH!!!

Well, I've never really had a strong point in mathematics. In fact, not to be negative however, i declare that mathematics is easily something i wasn't destined to do. I had trouble learning addition in the second grade, was put in "special needs classes" and now have to deal with algebra in which i have no base of due to the fact that i never could understand, and the majority of it i still can't. I'm not sure if i can do any higher college or AP math courses because i can barely do simply algebra (4x+4=Y) as it is. At this point, i might as well be a blue collar since my math abilities are waning further and further into the juvenile retention and ability as i can't learn what my teacher proclaims to be mathematics.

So, if i read The book by Isaac Asimov, is it a surefire way to improve my math skills? Because i don't want to read it, and find out halfway through the book that i can't comprehend it. I'm a person that wants to learn a lot of things, but i don't most of the time because i'm scared to fail(I've done that a lot), so i kind of.... gave up on most things, but i'm only 21 so i still have time i guess.

But for some reason after reading this article i'm somewhat motivated to try to improve myself instead of being this self-hating wreck all the time.

Just go to KhanAcademy.org

@Homunculus: math can kiss my ass. "Mathematics, on the other hand, is an elegant world full of romance and art" such bullshit. Romance, are you kidding me? A 3 minus another 3 equaling 0 is sooooo romantic omg im so horny :p, oh please. I've gotten so retarded, I can't even do basic addition easily! It's soooo hard ugh. My brain is useless, and im fat so like im a waste of resources, im awkward as fuck. I'll just kill myself.

MATH SUUUCKS. So I'm doing great all semester, right? You know, mid-90's going strong, some bad tests in the low 80's and I'm feeling confident that I'll do well in the course (Grade 12 IB Calculus). Then came the exam, just today. FUCKING most difficult exam I've ever taken, don't even know if I passed it, despite doing well throughout the damn semester. MY TEACHER IS SUCH A BITCH. WHY?!?!?!?! I'll bet I got in the low 60's on that one, and I'll bet that people failed, for sure. Absolutely ridiculous. Dumb as HELL. I'll finish low 80's now. Thanks, Mr. S. Oh, and F**K YOU AND YOUR OVERLY DIFFICULT BITCH EXAM

i studied in a school in which 3 passed out of 65!! and so many students got single digit number. lot of numbers, lot of symbols, they rub re rub and the huge board. many don't even copy. no remedy classes!! above all they labeled us, we r unfit class as a whole!!!

i came across a person who really cares and teaches step by step and not moving to the next step until the kids r clear. he never decorates his intellect. he cares he motivates, he teaches with lot of humour. Awesome. he is Mr. Kishor :-) any skill is learnable, it depends on the person how he communicates.

maths killing my life everytime everytime i apply for university

they ask for math like high level. wtf i'm 20 yrs old don't even know algebra properly

because my public school teach us nothing.

i did not know math will be required everywhere when i was graudating my highschool because no teachers told me it is important fuck math killing me following everywhere i go. i have no plan where to study now everywhere math damn you know i can't just learn 7 years late math in 1 year wwhat i mean is i try to relearn but it is taking so much time and almost becomig father now

@anonymous: I know exactly how you feel...I'm the same exact way.

@anonymous: From what I remember of trig in college (from my calc class), it wasn't any harder than the high school version

@anonymous: Exactly...:D

Senior in high school,

taking a college trig class.

i have a D.

a mid D

i would rather get shot first than let that soil my transcript.

i have no choice but to get B's on the next two tests to get a C in the class.

sounds simple right?

HELL TO THE FXCK NO.

Please pray that I don't do something I might regret...

I'll try not to.

@anonymous: Well, those teachers are dumb butts who don't have a life.

Then, get her address. When you get rich and famous and really smartical, send her a picture of yourself getting famous.

HAHAHA.

THANK YOU! Finally, someone understands how horrible this math they're teaching us REALLY is. This bull that they're feeding into our brains is horrifying. If I were taught a little more strictly in elementary school, i wouldn't be crying over simple multiplication problems. (Or maybe, it's just because my teacher gives me homework on HALLOWEEN, and my brain is fried the day after. Then again, my elementary teachers never gave me homework on Halloween, or informed me we wouldn't have homework on Halloween, so it can be partially that, also.)

Don't get me wrong, my teachers were great. If we just worked on those simple facts a bit more and were taught more strictly, i'd be acing 6th grade. And if math was a world full of arts, pattern, and romance (who would've thought?) then i'd be much happer with that. Sometimes i think to myself why i didn't inherit my dad's genes. He can do math problems really quickly and easily. I can't even do multiplication in my head. And my mom was taught in a different country, and my dad's always at work until late, and by that time i'm drooling and falling asleep. So I'm basically on my own on this one. Not like it's anyone's fault or anything.

If i don't pass 6th grade algebra, i'm going to homeschool.

hi to you all, well first of all i live in california; im currently in algebra 2, and im a senior in high school, well im on my summer right now which will be pretty damn boring because im stuck in my house all summer taking online courses to pass algebra 2 online. yes it sucks. i could be good in math, but i forget things quickly im bad at memorizing and i get stressed out too fast. i am currently trying my best, i spend almost all day trying to figure out problems, i search every little amount of help on the internet, such as videos or simple explanations of things. i am really stressed out because algebra 2 is required at my school in order to graduate. this is very alarming, because i am good at any subject but math, i have 5 A's and an F on my last report card, yes the F was on math, for both semesters. i really wish i could understand this math thing! im so tired of it and i wanna get it over with; i am trying to be as positive as i can with this and study my hardest because nobody will do the work for me I have to do it on my own, even if it means i have to be home all summer long!, i do not care! i have to pass algebra 2!; and for all you people out there that feel very scared or frustrated, don't worry you're not alone, think positive, but the most important, DO NOT WASTE TIME!, use it! value your time!, it will be worth it......

I've been awesome at math in elementary, and now I'm in 6th, and i was doing...average. Now, it's just HELL in math. I don't know why, but I just despise the subject. The thing I'm most afraid of (besides fractions), is failing. Every time the teacher asks: Does everyone get it? and I say in my head: No..... not at ALL. But, i don't wanna act like a dummy so all the other kids make fun of me. It's just hard, and I HATE it...... i need help, and fast. My mom always yells about my grades, and she puts me under the bus and says I'll get F's starting next year all the way through college. I just HATE math !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! UGGH!!!!!!!!

In elementary school, math always seemed so easy to me, I remember I was a straight A student and I'd come home with my report card and my parents would be so proud of me. Then I graduated into Middle school, and it was like someone grabbed my straight A record and ripped it in my face. I entered my math class and my teacher went over a "quick review of what we should already know". Over half the things she said, I never even heard of. I remember glancing around the room hoping someone else had that "deer caught in the headlights" look on their face, that I'm sure was freshly stamped onto mine. Everyone seemed to be fine, but me. I moved recently so I was in a different school district, I didn't know any of the students, or teachers, anything. This was the start to my math problems. I struggled all throughout Middle school, I never even made it into Algebra, I kept taking pre-Algebra the whole time because my teachers felt I didn't have what it took to move on. Then I got into high school, I retook pre-Algebra because I was told all throughout middle school that I didn't have what it took to take Algebra I guess. But I struggled threw that too. And I would get so frustrated because I wasn't like the students that mouth off to their teachers, or don't do their homework on a regular basis, I really studied and worked my butt off. But no matter how hard I try I never seem to get it down. I'm now a Senior in Algebra 2, and I'm still struggling. (Surprise, Surprise?) I just recently took a math test on factoring, and I studied SO MUCH for it, I really felt confident that I knew what I was doing! I was so happy and excited to take that test! I took the test with ease and felt so proud that I did good. But then a couple days later, when the tests were graded I my test back. It laid face down on my desk. I took a deep breath, and grabbed it and flipped it over. And to my disgrace.......I failed it. I broke down. My eyes welled with tears and I crumbled the test into my fist, I leaned forward so my hair would fall in front of my face so no one could see my expression. Everyone seemed to have passed but me and druggie-kid, who only came to school because he had to. I wiped my tears away and just shut down. My teacher didn't notice or care, he just continued teaching us the new lesson we would be learning the next three days and then take a test on that too. Every time I get handed a test now....it seems that I forget everything that I learned and studied. And I fail, every...single....one. I now hate math, every thing that looks like math, sounds like math, or has numbers. I freeze up and my eyes well up because I know no matter how hard I try, I won't pass it....

@anonymous: It's because there are teachers who says you are pathetic or stupid when you answer wrong.

I have been struggling in math classes all my life. My idea of math is that it is something bland and crude. My grandmother has blamed herself for my short comings, but after reading this I know it isn't her fault.

I've been failing my math ever since I'm in grade 4. I'm now 15 and in high school. The thing is, I just can't put up to what my teacher has taught me. I will feel extremely anxious, scared and feared if my teacher ask me questions on how to solve it because I don't know what's the answer! I feel like they kept pressurizing me until I've gone bonkers.

I was doing well in other subjects except this PARTICULAR SUBJECT.

Whenever I see numbers, my head hurts and feel really dizzy. My anxiety level hits up to the maximum. Are there such thing as Arithmophobia - fear of numbers?

well...I've been failing my math since grade 4..... im now 15 and in highschool.

The thing is, I've tried hard enough to understand what my teacher was teaching me... but still I just can't put it up what he/she has taught me. The ugly truth is that I'm always worried, scared and feared if my math teacher ask me questions...because I don't know what's the answer! But they kept pressurizing me...

Urm, are there such thing as phobia in numbers?

meaning that when you see numbers, your anxiety level is to the maximum and just went crazy over time.

@anonymous: What he was trying to do is tell you that the simple things you think you're doing on a daily basis are really complicated when expressed properly on paper.

Another example of this is catching a ball. When someone throws a ball at you, you reach out and catch it, right?

Well no, not really, as scientists and code-monkeys that were trying to make a robot catch a thrown ball discovered.

In actuality, you watch the person throwing the ball. You identify that the ball is, first, different than the rest of the scene, second, a ball, third, coming at you, and fourth, something you want to catch. Next, you track the ball's progress through the air using, first, up and down (z-axis) relative to the ground or other unmoving object, second, side-to-side (x-axis) relative to yourself, and third, forward and back (y-axis) relative, again, to yourself. Then, based on those calculations, you extend your arm and open your hand to the end point of the trajectory that you have calculated. If your initial calculation is wrong, you move your hand so as to catch the ball. All of this happens in the second or two that the ball is in the air.

Just like the book that costs $7 and you have $2, yes, you can simply subtract 2 from 7 and get 5, but when it's expressed mathematically, it's 2+x=7. Then it's (-2)+2+x=(-2)+7, then it's x=(-2)+7, which translates to x=7-2, which is, of course, 5.

Understand that math is a language, just like English, and more and more every day, the more you know that language, the better off you are. Do I use algebra, trigonometry, or geometry as part of my daily life? No, probably not (unless I'm designing something) but it comes in handy.

Knowing how the logic system of math works enables you to break everything in life down and learn it easier. It allows you to see how things are put together more, and understand the world around you better. You are able to use logic more and more to, much like Sherlock Holmes, understand people and answer more often the great question of, "why?".

That's the legacy of math. It's not numbers on a chalkboard, or a bunch of geeks sitting around, imagining complex story equations for each other to solve (although that is fun) it's a greater understanding of everything around you, and that, I think, is worth bearing a couple lousy teachers to gain the knowledge of.

By high school I tried to take Physics..without ever making it past Basic Geometry. Sine, Cosine, Tangent..what are those? My counselor screwed up BIG time. I remember doing some long formula under a square root sign BACKWARDS to reach an answer, because that was the only way it made any sense at all. (Algebra was just as bad for me). It only took an hour, and about 10 sheets of paper. I turned it in, and the teacher was so shocked I even turned any work in, after class he worked through my solution. I thought his head would explode. It took him about 15 minutes to work it the way I did. When he finished he said (in summary) "I see what you did, but it shouldn't have worked. I know you don't have the math background, and you barely made a "C" in Basic Algebra, and you're over your head, but somehow I think all your mistakes must have canceled out and you got the right answer." He cared enough to do some math testing, but he couldn't figure out where my math "blind spot' was. He told the counselor to pull me out before I killed my grade point average over a class I should have never been allowed to take.

@sorana lm: This is how math teachers screwed me up...there was always a way to make it HARDER!

Can't you just use basic math and subtract 2 from 7??

No need for algebraic gymnastics...we're not going to the Moon!

[in reply to sorana]

uh. you can also subtract.

why would you bother using the x.

mkay, so ima goin to summer school and i hateeee mathhhhh

Very interesting. Maths is not hard to learn however, it is hard to TEACH. If a teacher doesn't know how to reach all learning styles, some children (students, adults) will miss out on understanding Maths. More than this, is the culture so ingrown in the western countries that 'it is acceptable not to be good at Maths' or 'who needs Maths?' or ... any excuse will do. What a pitty that people don't realise that Maths, if taught properly, can be understood by almost everybody.

Here is an example of using Algebra (for those of you who keep saying: 'When am I ever going to use Algebra?': I

I have $2.00 and I want to buy a book that costs $7.00. How much more money do I need? This is a clear example of Algebra; as soon as an unknown quantity appears, you have Algebra. So $2.00 x (this stands for the unknown quantity) = $7.00 And this is how I've just written an equation: 2 x = 7. So x = 7 - 2. And the examples can go on and on and on ... Thanks for reading

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhay...nakuhhhhhhhh is,,,not worthy!!!!!!!!

My teachers called me stupid when I couldn't do things, but that never stopped me with anything except math; I always find a way to "translate" lessons so that my brain can understand it, even often excel where I was told I would never learn. I am almost certain my problems with math have to do with the way I think, that I just need to be able to re-conceptualize something, but I have not been able to figure out how. It took me years to learn even creating a roman numeral outline and I can't do simple algebra to save my life. I am trained as a philosopher, I am almost done with my PhD (which is going well) and yet I practically failed undergrad logic, even with hours of tutoring from the professor. He said he had never seen anything like it. When I take standardized testing, the result is always the same; near perfect scores on reading comprehension and near zero scores on math and logic. But that should be impossible! The two are not so separate. Why the disconnect?

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