March 17, 2008
By Katya Ungerman, Boca Raton, FL

I’m lying in bed and I’m wondering why math department heads are always harda**es. Thinking about the girls who are in pre-calc freshman year. What do they take 3 years down the road? I’ve always felt like math is so much so the bane of my existence. It’s something that is so indicative of one’s intelligence. It’s the kids who know how to do math that are lionized in the dingy halls of public school. There’s something of a stigma about sitting in the last row of a sticky Algebra I room when you’re a freshman, the lowest level you can take, while your peers are either in Geometry or something so far passed your level attempts to trump them will always be moot. You’ll never catch up with the freshmen taking geometry or whatever else they chose to take, unless you double up, triple up. Math department heads tell you this is a bad idea though. You’re obviously lacking a certain enthusiasm, a compulsory vim, if you are where you are now, in the back of an Algebra I classroom in 9th grade with all the soccer players and pseudo-intellectuals who couldn’t make the cut.

Math departments are out to screw us over. It’s the same everywhere. If you’re not a devoted student by 6th grade, you’re f***ed. It means no AP science courses until senior year, if you can even make it that far. It means that you’re going to end with pre-calc at best, because that’s the best you can do. Math department heads don’t care and then you wonder if you even want to have a talent for math. Is this what all mathematically inclined people are like?

People judge you on how well you do math. I took a standardized test the other day and scored 7/39. The only overachievers you’ll be able to find are more or less what an uneducated person would dub as mathematical prodigies; the liberal arts are easy to excel in, regardless what level. 7/39, I’m a sophomore sitting in the back of a geometry classroom preaching about how I’m so displeased with the level I was thrown into by the school. My grade right now is a D+, but how can one possibly fail a class whose description has the implications it was designed for kids with a nasty case of ADHD?

Math department heads don’t sympathize. I wonder if they set the example. I stopped paying attention in math 3 months ago. It bores me and I have a lot of gaps. I use the time I should have my eyes towards the board writing down my potential schedule for next year. How I’m going to move up math courses, when, and little soliloquies about how if I had paid more attention early on, I wouldn’t be in the mess I’m in now.

I remember when I decided math wasn’t for me and I remember it vividly. If I could go back and kick myself I would. My dad is a mathematician and I have a D in the lowest level math course a kid my age can realistically take, without being a complete and utter failure. One more 65 and I’m giving up on my mathematical endeavors for good. One more 65 and I might as well be in special ed.

2nd grade I think I really loved math and adding things in my head was my specialty. I was yelled at for doing this and I think I decided then and there math wasn’t worth my time. 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, 6th grade rolls around and I’m done. I can’t add 8+4 I can’t add 3+6, it takes me a little time and sometimes I’m wrong. Slow and steady calculations most kids my age could be flying through.

Math is too indicative of one’s intelligence.

I used to think that English had a place for me. I can’t get anywhere as far as English goes, my grammar is shot and I haven’t read a book in over a week. Not over a week, over a month, or a month and a few years, or over something. I can’t bring myself to read books. And languages are like a glass room. I don’t know what that means.

And I think, math is just far too indicative of our intellect.

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