The Joys of Math – and a Big What-if….

I know, you’re thinking, there she goes again with her oxymorons. How can math be joyful? I used to agree with you, until I started teaching algebra, and especially now that I am preparing for a rather important – and long – math test. The more I study, the more I am amazed at how I can teach myself all this new stuff. I will work on something new, and low and behold I can trace parts of it back to beginning algebra, and then build from there.

The joy is two-fold: I can actually teach myself this math, and I am ENJOYING it! This is fun – I can lose myself for hours in trying to make sense of how the math works. I still want to know why it works, and I also find myself in the position of the kids with the question “When are we ever going to use this?”

Were I to continue with more advanced math, I’m sure I’d see when we use it. For now, I’m having a very different kind of fun and creative work. The big what-if came over the weekend, as I said to hubby that I still amazed myself at being able to do this. My next comment was, “How would life have been different had I been able to ‘do math’?”

That’s a pretty big question. I kind of stunned myself. What would have been available to me? I am always talking to the kids about having options for their futures. At my time, it was nursing, secretarial, or teaching. I didn’t want any of them. Women in mathematics would have been quite a stretch for the early 70s, and I didn’t have the support. I remember how hard it was for me when I was the only female in a political science trip off campus to a county system to look at the day-to-day workings of government. I knew that all the males with me were trying to behave because of a “lady” present, and consequently I felt all the more uneasy.

Maybe all really does work out for the best. I love what I am doing, and with teaching algebra I know I am providing valuable options for children’s futures. Go and be whatever you want – revel in that ability.

That said, I want the test over so I can get back to making some art!

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