I appreciate the value of math, and admire those who are good at it. For me, the reason I am "scared" of math is that my brain just doesn't want to work in the way I need it to when it comes to mathematics.
I have to literally work four times as hard at math. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I have to hear the most basic of concepts taught over and over before I really get them. We did some work with logic in one of our math classes. If we used letters (if P then Q, etc.), I was completely lost. If I asked the teacher to give me a sample sentence instead, I instantly understood. When I see numbers or letters, I just don't compute well, whereas a sentence or a word translates better in my brain. (I'm sure there is better terminology for this, but it's my simple way of explaining!)
I've passed all my math classes by taking extremely detailed notes. With the exception of one class where I had an amazing and patient teacher and actually learned, I have passed all my math classes by memorizing steps and sample problems from my notes. I cannot tell you why I am doing what I'm doing or why it works. I just memorize it, plug in the new numbers on quizzes and tests, pass my classes, and never look back.
I am taking statistics right now, and it's (hopefully) the last math class I ever have to take. I do appreciate math, but at the same time, I stay as far away from it as I can, because I'm bad at it, and I find it incredibly difficult. Who wants to sit around feeling stupid and banging her head on the table for hours? Not me...
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Thread: Math phobia, why?

04262009, 09:09 PM #11
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04262009, 09:19 PM #12
I actually like Math, but I always get ridiculous amounts of points off for being careless and not paying attention to detail.
The theory of math fascinates me, actually doing math doesn't.
That being said, I'm not afraid of Math. The complicated problems you get in class just test your problem solving / application ability. No problem is really harder than another, you just have to see how to turn it into a series of simpler problems. For people that can't do this well, I can understand why Math would be intimidating.The probability that I was procrastinating when I was typing this post:
P(have big assignment due) = 0.6
P(posting on TypoC) = 0.2
P(having big assignment due  posting on TypoC) = 0.7
P(posting on TypoC  having big assignment due) = .......
Eh, I'll finish it later.

04262009, 09:56 PM #13
These are some common problems. I hate the way math is taught in so many schools (often by teachers who are math phobic, themselves).
It's horrible that your teacher told you that there are no numbers below 0.
Teachers should be encouraging multiple approaches to problems, especially the approaches that give answers directly without a lot of steps.
If that skill were nurtured, your quantitative reasoning skills would be greatly enhanced. How do you think people get those 800s on the Math SATs and GREs? certainly not by cranking through each problem in the "approved" manner (don't have time), but by simply noticing which answer is correct.
This is very common. That is why so few people get the Wason Card Problem correct but could answer the analogous problem about drinking age, and alcoholic beverages without ever taking a logic lesson.
Mathematics is essentially a systematic way of using analogy to extrapolate what is known into realms of the unknown. We have great success at using this faculty, once trained. Often, it is synonymous with "reasoning." It is infact the most successful of human faculties in finding out the truthmore so than empiricism, and the "scientific method" even.
It's unfortunate that so many people get into this mode. Imagine if we had similar reservations about being perfect in grammar and spelling before we wrote anything. We would miss out on learning a large part of the process that has absolutely nothing to do with being "correct."
Also understandable.
But I think in the the not too distant future, not understanding statistics will be similar to being "computer illiterate."
It will put you at a disadvantage.
We'll have so much "data" thrown at us, that being willfully ignorant of its meaning would either put us in a possition to distrust all of it, or trust all of it unconditionally.
Neither of these positions is particularly favorable.
I make plenty of stupid mistakes myself, but this is where having mulitple ways to solve the same problem helps. It is hard to solve a problem in two different ways and be wrong in the same way. Both approaches could be wrong, or perhaps share the same wrong assumption. But the more ways you can approach a problem and get the same answer, the more confident you can be of its correctness (again checking for shared assumptions).
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

04262009, 10:02 PM #14
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I guess I could see what you are saying in terms of grammar, since many people find it difficult and complicated. The problem for me is if I don't have a patient teacher or a teacher who can explain well, the class moves along too fast. If I don't want to fail, I have to use whatever means I can to remember enough to pass the course. That's why I really appreciated the one teacher who took his time explaining things to me. I actually enjoyed that math class and still remember a lot of what I learned in it. It was a math class for people who aren't math majors, though, and in other classes I feel too obnoxious to make people wait while I ask eight billion questions. Plus, my questions are so basic and my grasp of math so limited, that I just feel like an idiot. It's difficult being surrounded by people who are good at math. I like it that my college split up some of the math courses for math majors and non math majors. I wish they did more of that, because I felt very comfortable in the class for non math majors.
I think statistics is important, and I've learned a lot from it. I agree that it's important to have a basic understanding of these concepts. I understand why it's a requirement for most students, and agree that it should be. I'll just be glad to put it behind me and not have to work on it every day. I can write an Aquality 5 page paper in 45 minutes, but my math homework questions end up being hours of monotony and brain drain. (Sorry, I can tell you are passionate about math, and I am sure my less than enthusiastic attitude is a little obnoxious.) I really do appreciate math, to some extent. Promise.I71%, N80%, F74%, P96%

04262009, 10:24 PM #15
I suppose this would be true for any outofmajor classes?
I know I am being a futurist here, but I think our childrens' generation will be as comfortable with statistics as we are with computers. They will be working with statistics every day, and not really be too concerned about it.
Some will understand its underpinnings which will give them a great advantage, just as deeper computer skills do for our generation.
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

04262009, 10:32 PM #16
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Yes. I'm very talented at pointing out the obvious.
Oh my. *faints at the thought of being as comfortable with statistics as computers* It would be nice, I suppose, if my son had an easier time with it than I did! I hope so.
P.S.  Are you a teacher? You sound suspiciously like a teacher.I71%, N80%, F74%, P96%

04262009, 11:08 PM #17
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
Robot Fusion
"As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
"[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
"[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

04262009, 11:56 PM #18
I used love math all the way through high school. I loved crunching numbers, geometry, seeing the practical ways we could use math.
But things got a little too theoretical / impractical for my tastes as soon as I was taking trigonometry. Prove this, tan, cos, tan, etc..ahh bleh!

04272009, 01:24 AM #19
I think for me it just seems too abstracted, out of my league, and unapplicable to my regular life for me to adore itit gives me too much grief in terms of grades, even if I do appreciate it as a concept, I can't see it's use for me personally and it just causes me a lot of anxiety and strenuous thinking. When I'm trying to solve double integrals, find limits, or do implicit differentiation, all the while I'm just wondering WHHHHYYY AM I DOOOING THIS.

04272009, 01:31 AM #20
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