Personality Cafe banner

1 - 12 of 12 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I'm taking College Algebra right now and quite frankly it's kicking my ass. I aced Statistics last semester, I just "got it", it came pretty naturally to the way I think and I actually enjoyed the class. Algebra I just don't get. I don't know what it is, but it's all going in one ear and out the other. Functions, graphing equations, linear equations, quadratic expressions, all of it...it just seems like straight up nonsense to me. None of it is clicking...at all. It's funny because everyone told me that Statistics was a nightmare, and this was coming from Calculus students, but I didn't really find it hard at all. I even destroyed the final project which a lot of people struggled with. My brain just won't process Algebra and I don't know why. From the very first chapter I just didn't get it. I look at a function and because it makes no logical sense to me I have to "memorize" all the variables and what everything means instead of actually understanding the concepts, which is why I just can't keep up with it. Like, I'll look at how you can create a simple function from a real life idea and I'll understand where they got it from, but I would have never come up with that formula on my own. Algebra seems to just completely work against my Ne because I'm thinking too much about it, like I'm thinking so deep into it because I just can't understand it and it bothers me. It's probably a lot more simple than I'm making it out to be in my head, but whatever it is I can't think that way.

My Professor told me it's probably because it's been 9 years since I've been in high school, and I forgot everything. She's probably right because I don't know what the hell she's even talking about when she writes on the board.

Which one is harder for you personally? Also, do you guys know of any good youtube channels or something online that explains it in like the most basic common sense type of way? I feel like once it clicks I'm gonna have this huge "OOOOOOH" moment, but for right now I'm completely lost in the dark.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,281 Posts
My best pal is an INTJ. Through his highschool he won math awards
and ranked in the top 5 for accounting math within the entire province of Ontario.

I on the other hand had to have special help with math in elementary school.
My problem as it turns out was that I was reading into nothing. There was
nothing more to "get". I over complicated it and then subconsciously convinced myself
that I just couldn't do it.

My INTJ friend after knowing me for 20 some odd years now told me a few
years back that I am just selling myself short. This is the advice he gave me:
FBE, you need to put the math into a form that you can read. You are looking
at all the hard laws and rules of the math and trying to push past it. You cant
do that. That is not how math works. It just is. Its kinda the same
complaint he got from his teaches yet he had the right answers so it worked
for him. He just does it in his head. No showing of work or proofs.

Anyhow.. he showed me how to change almost any equation into a word problem.
Since then I have had no hangups learning math. I am not good at math. I am not
trying to say that but at least now I can understand it. Also in as far as
algebra goes, bring everything down to the lowest common denominator.
Maybe that last bit is just for people who are really bad at it like me but the
extra step of reducing the numbers makes me see the solution a lot easier.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,940 Posts
It's funny but I am way better at word problems than just equations. I was horrible at proofs and I got in trouble for while getting the answer right, not being able to show how I got there.

I think I understood statistics better because it is really a visual representation of data.

In college, I took an experimental class called "applied trigonometry" that the entire class was nothing but word problems using real world ideas. I kicked ass in that class (I had taken high school trig before so I was not completely going in blind though). I find I need to visualize math to understand it, I think that was why just equations and rules are hard for me to retain. I will say, while I always tested into the advanced classes in math in school (like I said, I know the answer but have a hard time showing how I got there so
I was good on standardized tests), the classes never came easy. It takes a while for each concept to click for me (often they were on to the next concept before this happened so it was a struggle), but once it did, it was cake after that.

The interesting thing I realized that actually helped me understand what each math was understanding what each math is trying to convey:

-Algebra is 2D. It is like looking at a plan view map of a backyard pool shaped like a rectangle. You do not need to take in account the depth of the pool to work your equations.
-Geometry is like seeing the pool in elevation and it is all the same depth and you fill it with water. Geometry is figuring the volume of the water in a pool that is all the same depth.
-Trigonometry is like a pool with a shallow and deep section. If you fill it with water to a foot from the top of the pool, trigonometry is trying to figure the volume of water in a non-consistent depth.
-Calculus is like the pool with a shallow and deep section and while you are filling the pool with water, the drain is also open letting some water out but less than what is filling. (It is also very hard, especially Calc II at least in US liberal arts colleges, it is the engineers weeder class, meaning this is the class that makes engineers decide whether they actually want to continue getting their degree in engineering. It was not fun to take as a Geologist).

Anyway, I highly suggest you try to visualize the math. That class I took really helped me rethink how I look at math. It became more than just numbers. I actually use math a lot in my career, especially trig and algebra so it was actually a pretty important class.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,444 Posts
Algebra is prob the branch of math I did the best in and enjoyed the most. To me it was natural and somewhat fun playing around with equations to solve for variables and such.

Statistics was a bit more difficult for me to do well in because it required memorizing formulas which is the sort of thing I have difficulty retaining. Statistics was also less fun because it felt more like accounting than problem solving.

Prob the area of math I had the most difficulty in was trigonometry stuff Cos Sec Sin Tan stuff. Things would make sense w/ graphs but then quickly get confusing .. the class I struggled the most w/ was Calc 2 because it was a lot of the trig stuff with limits. Calc 1 I actually did well in and enjoyed. It was similar to algebra in that it was a lot of manipulation of equations that I found natural and fun, but in calc you got to use a lot more graphs and calc is a lot of applying math to real world with physics type problems which are both aspects I liked.

I studying Chem Engineering, so my chem classes involved a lot of balancing equations which is similar to algebra, and engineering and physics classes involved a lot of basic calc. Linear Algebra was the most difficult math class I took, but I actually didn't mind that class too much. I liked complex numbers even if I felt like I was missing some intuitive understanding of what imaginary numbers are.


If you're struggling w/ algebra, I'd make sure you know the order of operations by heart (that's fundamental and if you don't that may be why you're struggling) and then just practice taking equations and moving the variables and numbers from one side to the other just so you get the hang of how you can manipulate equations to different orientations that are equivalent. I don't know, maybe there's some tool you or site that you can use where it will help you see different ways an equation can be written to make sure you're doing it right. Or just do a bunch of practice problems.

Algebra and cal I feel are more like skills that take practice compared to stuff like statistics where its more memorizing a few formulas and knowing when to use them. For me I prefer algebra for those reasons, but I can see how people can have the opposite sentiment.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,444 Posts
I actually liked math in school and have desires to continue studying math on my own. The thing is I never felt I was good enough to major in it a pursue a career in it. I always did well but not great. I'd get As or Bs. But I always got a few problems wrong, always struggled to retain any of the things I learned in math, and always felt like there was some intuitive understanding of stuff that didn't quite click for me. So I never felt I was good enough to have it as a major in college or to have physics as a major in college.

Math defintiely is a subject that quickly and easily can make anyone feel dumb and can become very intimidating and overwhelming. So don't feel bad if you're struggling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
It's funny but I am way better at word problems than just equations. I was horrible at proofs and I got in trouble for while getting the answer right, not being able to show how I got there.

I think I understood statistics better because it is really a visual representation of data.

In college, I took an experimental class called "applied trigonometry" that the entire class was nothing but word problems using real world ideas. I kicked ass in that class (I had taken high school trig before so I was not completely going in blind though). I find I need to visualize math to understand it, I think that was why just equations and rules are hard for me to retain. I will say, while I always tested into the advanced classes in math in school (like I said, I know the answer but have a hard time showing how I got there so
I was good on standardized tests), the classes never came easy. It takes a while for each concept to click for me (often they were on to the next concept before this happened so it was a struggle), but once it did, it was cake after that.

The interesting thing I realized that actually helped me understand what each math was understanding what each math is trying to convey:

-Algebra is 2D. It is like looking at a plan view map of a backyard pool shaped like a rectangle. You do not need to take in account the depth of the pool to work your equations.
-Geometry is like seeing the pool in elevation and it is all the same depth and you fill it with water. Geometry is figuring the volume of the water in a pool that is all the same depth.
-Trigonometry is like a pool with a shallow and deep section. If you fill it with water to a foot from the top of the pool, trigonometry is trying to figure the volume of water in a non-consistent depth.
-Calculus is like the pool with a shallow and deep section and while you are filling the pool with water, the drain is also open letting some water out but less than what is filling. (It is also very hard, especially Calc II at least in US liberal arts colleges, it is the engineers weeder class, meaning this is the class that makes engineers decide whether they actually want to continue getting their degree in engineering. It was not fun to take as a Geologist).

Anyway, I highly suggest you try to visualize the math. That class I took really helped me rethink how I look at math. It became more than just numbers. I actually use math a lot in my career, especially trig and algebra so it was actually a pretty important class.
Yeah I am the same way when it comes to visualizing. I am almost completely unable to grasp concepts if I can't apply them to a real world scenario. I still have no fucking idea what a function is, because all my teacher does is write f(x)=XYZ on the board and she starts talking about rate of change and stuff and I'm like "what the hell is going on right now, slow down". These numbers and variables mean nothing to me without any context.

That is why I enjoyed Statistics. My teacher was very good at helping his students visualize it. He was an ENTP actually, big black guy, very funny man. He would do things like walk out of the classroom, walk back in and act out a full scene where he would conduct a survey and he was just a really funny guy. He would say things like "If I buy you a beer and there was a 2/7 probability of it being terrible like Bud Light, then your chances are pretty good". Obviously it was more complicated like that but you get the idea. He made it so you wanted to go to class because he would always come up with the most creative stories for you to understand the more complicated concepts. If someone asked "is this gonna be on the test" he would go "OF COURSE! Because you all love math so much".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
966 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Algebra is prob the branch of math I did the best in and enjoyed the most. To me it was natural and somewhat fun playing around with equations to solve for variables and such.

Statistics was a bit more difficult for me to do well in because it required memorizing formulas which is the sort of thing I have difficulty retaining. Statistics was also less fun because it felt more like accounting than problem solving.

Prob the area of math I had the most difficulty in was trigonometry stuff Cos Sec Sin Tan stuff. Things would make sense w/ graphs but then quickly get confusing .. the class I struggled the most w/ was Calc 2 because it was a lot of the trig stuff with limits. Calc 1 I actually did well in and enjoyed. It was similar to algebra in that it was a lot of manipulation of equations that I found natural and fun, but in calc you got to use a lot more graphs and calc is a lot of applying math to real world with physics type problems which are both aspects I liked.

I studying Chem Engineering, so my chem classes involved a lot of balancing equations which is similar to algebra, and engineering and physics classes involved a lot of basic calc. Linear Algebra was the most difficult math class I took, but I actually didn't mind that class too much. I liked complex numbers even if I felt like I was missing some intuitive understanding of what imaginary numbers are.


If you're struggling w/ algebra, I'd make sure you know the order of operations by heart (that's fundamental and if you don't that may be why you're struggling) and then just practice taking equations and moving the variables and numbers from one side to the other just so you get the hang of how you can manipulate equations to different orientations that are equivalent. I don't know, maybe there's some tool you or site that you can use where it will help you see different ways an equation can be written to make sure you're doing it right. Or just do a bunch of practice problems.

Algebra and cal I feel are more like skills that take practice compared to stuff like statistics where its more memorizing a few formulas and knowing when to use them. For me I prefer algebra for those reasons, but I can see how people can have the opposite sentiment.
I still know PEMDAS from a long time ago, order of operations is not a probem for me. I know how to solve 3x-7=4x+5 (I'm not sure if this particular equation is solvable by looking at it, it's just an example). That's not a problem for me. I don't understand how to make an equation out of two points on a line, or how to find the average rate of change, or even what the rate of change means, or what a slope is, or what a quadratic equation is, etc... Like, I don't know what ANY of this even applies to in real life. I am not very good at understanding the "building blocks" of something. The way I learn is to see it from top to bottom. So start from a real world example and break it down piece by piece. Because these random equations are just numbers and letters to me and that's why I don't understand it.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
4,281 Posts
Think of it like a language. (phonetic language reference)
Not a group of numbers man.

Two ways to learn...well three technically.

We can learn language being taught phonetically. (in most of NA this is what we used to use)

We can learn language being taught to memorize every word.
or intuitively pick up on it by being around it. (now we use a combo of this in NA, mostly)

Learning phonetically teaches you what each letter does and how and what
it applies to and sounds like. In math this would be best in my opinion.
Learning from simple to complicated by way of understanding each
component to its fullest as a stand alone component. If we
know the root of anything in math it is solvable. Algebra is the
way to bring anything to another thing and get the same results.
It is perfect for this reference.

Learning by memorizing the numbers and what not teaches nothing.
It is retention based. So if you have a photographic memory great!
Go this route. (Also, if you have a photographic memory, I am super envious)

Try doing every equation forwards then backwards.
When I train my staff on certain math based work items I always have them do this.
More for liability and blame game later but it helps.

I really feel for you on this one my friend. Math can be pretty scary.
Did I say it was boring yet? If not, it is..very. IMO of course.
My INTJ pal would not agree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,168 Posts
While never exceptional at math, I was always better at algebra because it worked more like a puzzle to me. Statistics, geometry... they were too linear and required too much memorization. I liked the simplicity of algebra -- that if you understood the basic strategy and know the order of operations, it was usually fairly simple to solve.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
Top