Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Down With Algebra

Talking with Jonathan on twitter reminded me how much I hate math. Not the you have $25 and the Compact disk cost $17.75 with tax how much change will you get back shit...that has a purpose I am talking about the X=Y + S-E T25XY shit. I won't go into just how worthless I think Algebra is...most of you will never use it in the manner it's taught no matter what they tell you (here comes 6 math majors to tell me I am wrong)

I'll tell you a story. I went to a football game in Lincoln last year and after it was over we stopped at a gas station and I went in and bought the official drink of the Count Dr. Pepper. The pop cost $1.69 I gave the guy $2 he looked at me like I asked him to balance the national budget. My friend goes next buys a pop gives the guy exactly $1.69 and the guy says "exact change your the kind of customer I like" I am not making this up.

It's guys like this that remind me why I hate math. We are teaching more advanced shit to kids younger and younger and they come out and can't break $2 to give you 31 cents back. Truth is I was good at math once. I even was getting that Algebra shit down. But they didn't like the way I was doing it. They said sure your getting the right answer but you are doing it wrong...do it this wayor I'll flunk you I asked why they were driving through Iowa to get to Kansas they said shut up we're the teacher. I haven't been good at math since.

12 comments:

et said...

What's worse, most of these people who can't make change are using a cash register that actually TELLS THEM how much change there should be. (That I still find this exotic tells you how long it's been since I worked in retail.)

At least several times a year I end up getting too much change back. But I never correct it any more, because every time I try to do so, the errors just multiply. When the cure is more confusing than the disease, and all that...

Count Istvan said...

Another problem is Math is something you get or you don't and if you get you can't figure out why others do not. It's my experience math teachers are lousy but it might just be the subject they teach.

et said...

I regularly piss off ET Spouse by telling him that there is no algebra in real life. This jocular suggestion really bugs engineers for some reason...

Another example of dating myself: my trig teacher in HS was immensely proud of his latest acquisition, the then hot-off-the-assembly line doohickey known as a "calculator." It came from HP, was about the size of a typewriter, and was tremendously expensive. He brought it to class for us to check our work.

(In between Robbie Johnson reading zingers at me from an insult book, until I finally responded how sorry I felt for him that he needed a BOOK for it...)(What a memory! The thinks that stay with you... [shakes head in bewilderment])

et said...

Of course, I meant the "things" that stay with you.

Though, in context, "thinks" is kind of a happy accident, as typos go.

Count Istvan said...

I regularly piss off ET Spouse by telling him that there is no algebra in real life. This jocular suggestion really bugs engineers for some reason...

I think There is just not the way it's taught. When we have to use the principals of Algebra in real life there is no XY crap.

Seems to me that math isn't taught in schools in away that would actually benefit a students future life skills.

We need less random let's just think up some math problems and solve them and more ok as you get older you will need to balance a budget to run a household. You earn this and your monthly expenses are these...

I hope I am making some sense.

Count Istvan said...

One more math story. When we being thought Multiplication a hundred years ago I would tell the teachers 7X1 is 7 7X2 is 14 etc, etc, etc and they couldn't figure out why other numbers I was on the same level as the other students and 7 I was so far ahead. I would figure out later it was not due to school that I knew my 7X Table it was from watching football.

Count Istvan said...

we were

et said...

Heh - I like your football story.

Of course, I kid. There's plenty of math in real life, but I agree with you that X-Y-etc. is not relevant from day to day.

The same lack of relevance fuels my ongoing aversion to story problems. Where exactly Train A and Train B will pass each other on the tracks matters HOW, exactly? Unless you're filming a chase scene and need to precisely time the hero's leap from one train to the other?

I'm going to scan in a great story problem parody from an old SF novel ("Utopia 3") by George Alec Effinger and post links to its content. It's priceless.

et said...

Here's that Story Problem.

Part One
Part Two
Part Three.

My favorite moment is the last complete quotation in Part Two.

theroachman said...

Dont like math?

As a mathematician that makes me kind of sad...

The whole no algebra in real life bugs me too :D

You silly non math people would still be writing letters with quills if it was not for algebra.

(not that there is anything wrong with writting letters)

theroachman said...

Oh and I still have all of my college math books. At an average cost per book way over a 100 bucks its quite a nerdy collection of fun.

et said...

Right back at you with my collected college repertoire of world poetry and literature, Roach - along with my Riverside edition of Shakespeare's complete works, which could probably stun someone pretty well if dropped from a second-floor window.

It's really nice to see you around more, lately!

Total Pageviews