Any math majors struggle with math in high school? did math get better or worse in college? I'm asking because i want to major in math but i've struggled from 911 grade. Senior year I have a tutor, but I love math and see many benifits to a math degree. Is there a porblem with math in high school education, if so what is it?
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Thread: Math in High School

03272013, 07:45 PM #1
 Join Date
 Feb 2013
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Math in High School
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03272013, 08:54 PM #2
So I'm not a math major here and I've only taken one college math class so far (a calc class), but I have this to say...
In my opinion, math gets easier the more problems you do. Confused on a subject? Do a bunch of problems on it! Work through the first one with your notes/book, then try a second one without. If you love math, definitely go for it. You'll find out soon enough if it isn't working for you.
I've always had absolutely terrific math teachers in high school, but I understand that other schools may not be so fortunate.

04042013, 03:15 PM #3
I'm not a math major, but in my daily work designing Photovoltaic systems both on and off grid I use algebra and trig. to the umpteenth power. Problem is I am dyslexic and I can't do math in my head to save a life. I failed 9th grade AP Algebra mostly because everyone else in the class caught onto it much faster than I did and the teacher just went way too fast. Something about mixing numbers and letters just slows my brain down. I was lucky that we moved to a small town my junior and senior year of High School and my new school didn't have the advanced classes I was attending in my big city school, so I was put in a class of my own for math and english. The teacher would teach the rest of the class first and then give them assignments then spend the rest of her time teaching me one on one, I caught on very fast then and ended up graduating in the top 5 my senior year.
I got extremely lucky in college when my calculus II teacher had worked with many dyslexic children and was able to give me some very valuable tips. His tips helped me ace Physics and Chemistry like a champ and I ended up graduating with honors.
I never imagined I would ever have a career using math, but somehow I gravitated towards renewable energy and now I use ohms law at least 20 times a day and when designing tilt legs for pitched roof racks for the PV modules I use trig to find the length of the rear supporting legs.

04042013, 03:34 PM #4
Math was never my strongest subject, but looking back I see there was some correlation between my grades and how much I liked my teachers.
Freshmen year I was fine first semester because my teacher seemed sweet. But then she got very critical the minute my grades started to take a little tumble, which made me like her less and my grade fell from an A to a B. Sophomore year was the worst; it's bad enough that I suck at Geometry already, but I really hated my teacher. She spoke with a very thick Asian accent and it was hard for me to understand her. She was very serious and not friendly in the slightest and when she tried to be funny it just didn't work with me. I could tell she didn't really like me either because I talked in the back a lot with my friends and she would be on the lookout for me most of the time. I just hated her class and didn't want to put in the effort into learning it. I barely passed with a C haha. Junior year was by far my favorite and BEST year in math. My teacher was amazing. She was funny, adorable, friendly, not intimidating in the slightest. I ended up asking her to write my rec but it turned out I didn't need it! If I didn't get something she did an amazing job at explaining it too. She's by far one of my favorite teachers at that school. <3 Senior year was my first male teacher. Second semester I did fine because it was mostly review and he was a chill guy. But then when my class became more rowdy he started getting more strict and it was just downhill from there. I'm currently trying to maintain my C LOL.
This could also be because I'm more of an algebra person than a geometry person. Freshmen and junior year had algebra I and algebra II respectively, while my sophomore and senior year were geometry A and precalc. I really don't want to go into a career involving math and I even hate the thought of handling finances (I need a spouse who's good at that or else I'm screwed). I'm the complete opposite of frugal so I don't trust myself with money and taking care of it. I'm definitely best left in a peopleoriented environment where I can be directly interacting with others.

04062013, 07:26 PM #5
I suppose struggle is a relative term. I moved around a lot before high school. This meant that I had holes in my math background that made it difficult to grasp things the first time I saw a more advanced concept built on a hole in my background. Nevertheless, I did quite well in Math because I was willing to look repeatedly at what I did not understand till I did.
Generally, Math pedagogy is about building up on prior knowledge.
If you have the prerequisite knowledge incorporated into your thinking, then the new things are quite straightforward (and math gets easier going forward). If you don't, then the new ideas can seem like nonsense. But when this happens, a relatively easy remedy is:
1) identifying the missing prerequisites,
2) learning them, and then
3) reviewing the unfamiliar material that was built on top of that.
This does mean, however, that Math class grades (and science or engineering classes that use math) have a largely bimodal distribution. One mode is made of people who had the prerequisites, or were willing and able to shoreup their missing prerequisites (they pretty much ace the class), and another mode that did not (and they struggle hard).
My suggestion is that you spend a lot of time thinking of and describing the world in mathematics over the coming year and summer (like an immersion experience for a foreign language). Once the high school prerequisites are part of they way you can describe the world, then taking introductory college math is usually very easy.
It may even be ridiculously easy after this because many others haven't learned the language of mathematics. I'd imagine it is similar to how a native English speaker would feel in a college English Literature class, compared to a class of English as a Second Language students.
What is it that you love about math? Math is used in a lot of places...science and engineering, finance and economics, puzzles and games, and of course pure and applied mathematics. Depending on what you like, perhaps you can choose a major more suited to that.
I think there is a huge problem among the students I see entering college. I am not sure when the problem started, but it came as a shock to me when I had to teach them.
High school doesn't teach math, it seems. It teaches how to manipulate symbols following particular rules...or rather the mechanics of math. The mechanics of math is IMO left better to computational machines. I think the students realize this, so they just don't learn it. Mathematics is the science of patterns. High school students don't seem to understand this because Math is not taught that way.
There is another side to this too. It seems like some people don't want "rote learning" as part of math education. I empathize. However, being able to do two digit addition and subtraction as well as one digit multiplication and division is the least we can ask.
In addition to the above, math was seen in the U.S. as something only "smart and nerdy" people did. This attitude seems to be being exported quite broadly across the globe lately. Even a decade ago, the people I talked to in India didn't connect Math skill with social traits or intelligence. Learning math was treated similarly to learning to read and write their native language or English. This was simply something people did in order to become educated. Now, they talk about "not having to break their heads", in relation to jobs and courses that require mathematics.
Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
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"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

04112013, 02:21 PM #6
I think the problem is it's a certain kind of math taught in a certain way. Math in college is more expansive and with so many more options. Even I enjoyed and succeeded at college math, because it was applied to my preferred subject, whereas high school math was at best displeasing. Whatever type of math you love, focus on that and succeed at that. It should come easily if it's what you love.
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