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-   -   Kinda freaking out (http://mymathforum.com/academic-guidance/342054-kinda-freaking-out.html)

ArthurDeco September 25th, 2017 07:06 PM

Kinda freaking out
 
Hello. I'm hoping I can get some guidance or help, or something.

Background. I am a 53 yr old who has been working in civil engineering doing design and drafting for 29 years. I do not have a degree or a professional license, however, and I want both. This is very important to me. I am very good at what I do, but I am very weak at math. Sounds strange for someone in engineering, I know, but I do know what I do on a daily basis.

Algebra completely baffles me, and always has. What the deuce is X? It's like hieroglyphics to me. Yet everything builds from there. I started basic algebra at the community college level a few years ago and struggled every step of the way, but have managed to get by. I am now at a university (online program) and in calculus, and I'm kind of freaking out about it.

My issue is that I cannot retain what I learn. I get concept fine. I can do visual things like graphing fairly easily. But I should be remembering what I learned last semester in trig that leads to calculus, and I'm struggling and feel like I'm attempting to reteach myself on the side while trying to keep up with the class.

I thought maybe I had ADHD, as I fit so many of the symptoms, so I had myself tested by a professional a couple months ago and I definitely do not have it. Which actually kind of frustrated me because I'm back at square one with the same retention and concentration issues and nothing to point to that can be identified and worked with.

Any thoughts or help or suggestions would be most appreciated. Please feel free to ask questions if you need more information to make a suggestion or provide a thought.

jonah September 26th, 2017 10:09 AM

Beer soaked query follows.

Just of curiosity, are you a teetotaler or do you drink occasionally?
Please, humor me.

v8archie September 26th, 2017 11:18 AM

How much are you practising? What you are learning (mostly) is not mathematics, it's the tools with which mathematics can be done. If you don't learn well what the available tools are, what they do and how to use them, you will always struggle to use them for anything. It's like trying to learn how to play the Grieg piano concerto without learning well how to read music or play the piano.

ArthurDeco September 26th, 2017 04:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jonah (Post 581096)
Beer soaked query follows.

Just of curiosity, are you a teetotaler or do you drink occasionally?
Please, humor me.

Occasionally.

Humored?

ArthurDeco September 26th, 2017 04:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by v8archie (Post 581099)
How much are you practising? What you are learning (mostly) is not mathematics, it's the tools with which mathematics can be done. If you don't learn well what the available tools are, what they do and how to use them, you will always struggle to use them for anything. It's like trying to learn how to play the Grieg piano concerto without learning well how to read music or play the piano.

Virtually every day. Weekend days can be anywhere from 5 to 8 hours, plus.

I get what you're saying. A lot of what I'm doing right now involves simple things like factoring, etc., and I find myself having to reteach myself to use them.

I've started taking some "simple" algebraic problems to work and occasionally taking a couple minutes and working it just for the reinforcement. That has helped some.

Joppy September 26th, 2017 06:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ArthurDeco (Post 581114)
Virtually every day. Weekend days can be anywhere from 5 to 8 hours, plus.

I get what you're saying. A lot of what I'm doing right now involves simple things like factoring, etc., and I find myself having to reteach myself to use them.

I've started taking some "simple" algebraic problems to work and occasionally taking a couple minutes and working it just for the reinforcement. That has helped some.

When you say "I can't retain what I learn", what do you mean exactly? Is it that you simply forget after some time period?

Mathematics is a cumulative subject. Meaning that concepts and technique build on what came before. Are you sure you're understanding what's going on before progressing?

ArthurDeco September 27th, 2017 05:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joppy (Post 581115)
When you say "I can't retain what I learn", what do you mean exactly? Is it that you simply forget after some time period?

Mathematics is a cumulative subject. Meaning that concepts and technique build on what came before. Are you sure you're understanding what's going on before progressing?

Pretty much. And the loss of retention is embarrassingly short. I can learn something, feel confident in it, then less than a day later wonder what it is that I just did.

I don't have this issue with other subjects. Not when I read, or write, or whatever, just higher math.

I'm not looking for sympathy, per se, but maybe hoping that someone has had similar issues, or knows someone with similar issues, and can maybe suggest a technique or something that I haven't tried that might work for me. Even a small progression in the right direction would help immensely.

I am aware that I am probably being my own worst enemy, to some degree, also. Again, I am not usually like that.

It probably doesn't help that, to my mind, variables absolutely must mean something definitive. Take f(x), for example. X, must be a number, not another equation with more variables. I *know* that's not the case, though.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I have to do some homework. The Chain Rule is tonight's topic.

Joppy September 27th, 2017 08:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ArthurDeco (Post 581150)

It probably doesn't help that, to my mind, variables absolutely must mean something definitive. Take f(x), for example. X, must be a number, not another equation with more variables. I *know* that's not the case, though.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I have to do some homework. The Chain Rule is tonight's topic.

Do you feel uncomfortable when you see something like $f(x) = x^2$ ? How about $f(3) = 3^2 = 9$? Apologies if I'm not addressing your problem accurately.

jonah September 28th, 2017 11:58 AM

Beer soaked recollection follows.
From an author's preface:

Learning to use mathematics could be compared to learning to drive. In either case, the quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tse is appropriate:

You read and you forget;
you see and you remember;
you do and you learn.

At the outset the learner-driver is presented with a bewildering set of rules and tasks, some
of which must be performed simultaneously, some sequentially. There are sound, sensible
reasons for each of these rules, as learners will discover on their first outing on a public road.
Mastering driving skills and gaining a sense of how to control the car only comes about by
following closely the routines demonstrated by the instructor, then practising them over and
over again, sometimes patiently, sometimes not! In the end, the new driver will be able to
handle a car easily and effortlessly, as if it were second nature. With these newly acquired
skills life is enhanced with previously unavailable choices. The new driver (with a car!) can choose where to go, who to go with, what route to take, what time is convenient, etc. And so it is with maths.

ArthurDeco September 29th, 2017 04:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Joppy (Post 581151)
Do you feel uncomfortable when you see something like $f(x) = x^2$ ? How about $f(3) = 3^2 = 9$? Apologies if I'm not addressing your problem accurately.

$f(x) = x^2$ makes me uncomfortable. I keep thinking, "What's x?", even though I know x doesn't always have to be defined.

$f(3) = 3^2 = 9$ puts me at more at ease. This makes sense to me. It's straight forward. Boom, go!

This is part of it. The other is simply having trouble remembering processes and/or formulas without absurd amounts of repetition.


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