Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Figure

By Judith Garfield

It all started in 2nd grade.

I remember listening to Mrs. Dennis explaining about quarters and dimes and how much did you need to buy that loaf of bread and suddenly there was vomit everywhere. I’ll never forget the horrified yet perplexed look on her face as she gazed down and saw the mess beneath her feet. After that I don’t remember anything. The diagnosis: Math anxiety, pure and simple, and it has only gotten worse since that day.

According to the experts, math anxiety is an emotional reaction to mathematics based on a past unpleasant experience which harms future learning. I’m a textbook case.
That rising feeling of panic that precipitated the incident is fairly common, because what we don’t understand frightens us. And boy, was I frightened. My brain just did not compute what Mrs. Dennis was so patiently trying to explain. I was forever doomed to be overcome with panic, helplessness, and paralysis whenever I was required to solve a math problem. Problem solving is not one of my strengths.

And that of course leads us to the computer, where problem solving is forever coming up. The computer that sits there daring me to find the correct button to push when directed by commands on the screen. With a computer there is always the fear that if I press the wrong button I could cause the breakdown of cyber space. Or worse, I could lose every piece of information that S. has ever stored. We share a computer, so I try to be somewhat cautious with my indiscriminate button pushing. Usually, I commit to the key, strike it, then hold my breath and pray nothing terrible will happen. So far I’ve escaped disaster.

I suppose it all comes down to not wanting to look like a moron. Honestly, there are times when I am utterly humiliated by my inability to navigate simple machines. Even cash machines cause me anxiety. I like to say it’s because I’m right brained. A creative type. That may be partly true. But it just doesn’t explain why I can’t even put the cordless phone back the proper way until someone takes pity and shows me.

In my next life I plan on being a left brain math whiz and computer genius. Until then, I’ll just try to push the right buttons.


CiaoBellaDesign said...

I am right there with you! I had to take algebra over and over until I finally gave up. It was not worth it to me because I never saw the benefit of it. I knew basic math skills and what was needed for daily life.

Anonymous said...

A mathaphobe gets on a train traveling 65 miles per hour north. At the same time, a math teacher boards a train from the same station traveling 45 miles per hour south. How long will it take for the mathaphobe to get far enough away from the math teacher such that her anxiety will not trigger her gag reflex?

Big Shantz said...

the grass is always greener, judith. or, in this case mathier.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we now know why you dislike cooking...all the measurments!