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If You Hate Math

"The danger already exists that the mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit and to confine man in the bonds of Hell." -- St. Augustine  

You’re in good company. And, believe it or not, you’ve got good reason to. This may sound strange coming from someone who croons over polynomials, but it’s a troublesome subject, to be sure.

Resist the temptation to click to another site; stay a bit longer. There’s good stuff here, even for math loathers, and good tips to help your kids loathe it less.

Is it an exquisite flower, or is it a thorny stem with a few petals on top?

It's both. 

Sometimes we don't want to admit just how much our lovely subject is hated.  When a child voices distaste for mathematics, our reaction is akin to if he'd expressed distaste for a baby sister.

We tell him he's wrong.  And we tell him math is everywhere, in bicycles and baseball and batting averages. 

Which of course is true, but it skirts the issue.  He knows he's done just fine riding his bike and hitting the ball, without math.  And he knows that math class doesn't look anything like baseball.

And then there's the favorite retort: but math is fun!

No, not always.

Lois Croft was one of the finest teachers our generation of kids was lucky enough to get.  She was already a small, white-haired woman when I sat in her class, and she delivered her subject like it mattered.  She delivered it tough, and straight, and we ate it up.  "There's drudgery in everything," she'd tell us.  We stopped expecting it to be otherwise.  And then we got to the gold.

In trying to get our children to like math, we make a mistake in thinking we need to make it easy.  Watch your child playing ball - he runs and reaches and sweats - and he loves it.

These pages will be filled with ways to change your child's experiences in math for the better - but if he - or you - hate math, begin there.   There are good reasons.  It's hard.  It can be tedious.  Sometimes it may seem dull and disconnected.  True enough.  But there's more.  Stay and we'll show you.

"Mathematicians are like lovers .... Grant a mathematician the least principle, and he will draw from it a consequence which you must also grant him, and from this consequence, another." ---Fontenelle

"The different branches of Arithmetic -- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision." --The Mock Turtle, from Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll

  "The most painful thing about mathematics is how far away you are from being able to use it after you have learned it." --
         J. R. Newman, The World of Mathematics.



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