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Through out my middle school life I had lost all skill in math. I had encountered one bad math teacher after another, and I had lost all confidence in my math skills. When I entered high school my first 2 years were also horrible in terms of math because the first year there was a bad teacher and the second year was due to a rowdy class. By the time I was a junior I had no interest in math because I was horrible at it and Math made me feel incredibly stupid. I was frustrated and my way of solving the issue was ignoring it and making excuses. But, when I became a junior I knew that I could not do that anymore, and I realized through my 2 years that Math is actually very interesting because of all the different ways of thinking it provides me. Also I found out that math was not all formulas and measuring and memorization, but, that it was something tangible and I could use in my everyday life. I also realized that part of the fun of math was not knowing and the process of figuring the problem out, and that isn’t something to be embarrassed because all of us as peers all struggle. I believe that because for many Math is such a hard topic, and like any other hardship in life, a bond is created when people go through something together and in turn create an emotional bond. I remember last year, when I first came to CAT, and had to solve the unit problem I had issues it. But, if I had issues, I asked my friends that I had transferred in with, because in a sense there was a concrete way of solving IMA and the RATS and the WINDOWS unit problems. Once I knew the answer it was very easy to
trace back and figure out the process, and I was comfortable with my small group of resources. But, when Greenbacks or Greenspace came about that tactic did not work anymore, the realization that everyone was at a different level depending what class they were in, or how they chose to go about it, because there were so MANY different ways hit me. The only people I could go to were the people in my class. I had to both break out of my shell and through that experience, I gained connections with the other students because like me they were also struggling with it. After the unit problem was solved lasting connections were made. And the connections developed into friendships that I might not have gotten if not for the Unit Problem. Throughout my life Math has always been a difficult subject for me to grasp. I just could not make the connections between all of the different concepts in math. For example, I did not figure out the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of integers really well until the beginning of 10th grade. Also, another problem that I had with math was that I would understand some things and not others, which led me to understand things separately which played into my issue of not being able to make connections in Math. As I got older, this issue stayed with me and when I got to CAT I felt like I was very behind. But, Math at CAT was very culminating. Everything at the time would not make sense and would be hard to understand, but by the end of the problem everything fell into place and everything that was learned would work together and the problem would be solved. I would learn a bunch of different concepts and then have to use it to solve the unit problem. Slowly as I had gone through the 11 th grade I had learned how to make those connections. But, during that time it was extremely hard for me, because I didn’t get it. I would often times not complete my homework or classwork
and I would get mediocre test grades. In the beginning I was embarrassed about asking about really simple concepts that I couldn’t grasp; after a parent teacher conference meeting I decided that I had to ask for help and get my math life together. I failed and messed up a lot during this period but I continued to persevere and had to develop the tenacity to do it and now it has become part of my personality. After I had built the tenacity that it took to do math and I had developed that personality trait, I had come to second semester junior year, which meant two things, College and most importantly SAT’s. With the arrival of the SAT’s, it shattered the confidence that I had in myself mathematically. The confidence and ability that I
developed over the course of first semester junior year had started to dwindle even after doing homework and having conferences. It was my confidence and belief in my math capabilities that were effected, intangible things. But, then I had to start SAT practice, I realized that SAT math and the math I had learned was completely different. I had to go through a period of time that I had to revaluate my stance on Math once again. I went back to the place of frustration and embarrassment and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do SAT math. After some time and doing more practice tests, I had started to grasp the underlying trick in SAT math and had understood it. After my SAT’s were over I had realized that the experience I had had made me grow up and was part of growing up due to the fact that things are never set in stone and that I have to strengthen my ability to adapt to certain situations and I needed to understand that there are set backs in life but what I had to do was to approach them with a calm, confident, and collected manner. During my SAT ordeal I had to learn all of that type of math. Second semester I had a tutor for both SAT math and schoolwork, and math in general. So, I had to do math
work for school and 2 different types of math work for my tutor. Then, on top of that I did practice SAT math tests on my own. In addition to my math work I also had to do other schoolwork. Later, over summer vacation, I had taken an SAT class, and I would go 3-4 times a week. When I got back to school I felt like I hadn’t had a break and that I was on a grind and high pressure situation for so long—later I had other SAT subject tests to study for—and so, when I was going through this it tested my pressure limits. I discovered just how far I can go, how much pressure I can tolerate, and when I need to step back. But, I had learned my limits and my limitlessness and I realized how much farther I could go. After learning my limits and developing my tenacity, I learned that trying in some cases is enough. Because if I find out that after trying my hardest I still made mistakes I can go back and fix them and from the revision I get better. Like, Andrew Wiles—I’m not saying that I am a genius like he is—he is a mathematician that tried really hard to solve Fermat’s enigma and he made a mistake. It took him 7 years to figure out the enigma. When he found out he made a mistake he went through a really low point for the next 6 years. Then he came back and actually solved it. I think that him getting back up and trying again actually makes him a more admirable person because he didn’t give up after such devastation. Using him as an example, I know that as long as I try I can always figure out math. After my SATs were all over—yesterday—I had to readjust myself to CAT math. I had to go back to a very connected type for math that required me to grasp what was going on from beginning to end in order to be able to figure out the Unit Problem. Also, because of the previous year, I had developed the skill of “hunting”. Hunting means that
I knew what I needed and finding ways of having those needs fulfilled. If I needed help I knew whom I could ask, or if I had to work through something I knew all the information that I would need in order to get through it. Because of this skill I know how to research better as well, because I can research a “chain” of people or things and get to a more complete outcome and understanding. After learning math—especially higher-level math—I realized how much of our world has to do with math and in a sense how many possibilities that I have in life. When I go to an ice cream shop I realize just how many combinations there are that I can choose from, and that also goes for restaurants, classes for college, time management, all of these things are all influenced by math and can be decided by math and so it feels like an entirely different world opens up in sense. Math provides me with another way of examining the world and another way to live. The math life is a lot more calculated and has to ability to be pre planned, which is a different world than the one I lived in before the mathematical influence. Then on a global scale I think about how land, food, resources are allocated and exactly how unfair or fair these things are divided and how many issues can be eliminated if the world was more mathematically just. I do think that if the world acted in a more unit problem style, the world can change. In class when we have to solve a unit problem, we start from point one and work and understand the problem all the way until the end. There is never 1 point where we do not understand because we go through it all. Nothing is overlooked or forgotten about. If we apply these same ideals to the real world we can all understand one another thoroughly and take the time to go step by step with one another I do think that we can change the world. Also at the same time in those steps other math concepts can be used
like I said before with the allocation of land or the allotment of food, or even the use of energy all of these things can be fixed with math know how and human proactivity. Now, as I move on to the future, I can and will take all of the lessons I learned through math with me. I can move one more confident in my own skills and personality because I have grown up some and I am no longer so frustrated and closed off especially when it comes to math because I had to work through all of it. So, in then end even though on the surface it seems like I learned math concepts I actually learned a lot of lessons and traits; tenacity, perseverance, hunting, and math eyes. Later on, I can add these things to what I learn in the future and I will be that much closer to the person who I want to become, and it would have been partially due to Math and the different ideas and emotions it evoked in me.
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