I’ve never been so fired up about math in all my life.
In fact, I’ve always hated and struggled with math. Homework routinely ended in tears when I was a kid. I knew just enough to figure out the pre-calculus mark that would be pounded in harsh black typewriter ink onto the first report card of my Grade 12 year. I recall a classmate asking if it should have read 92. Alas, 29 was correct.
It didn’t get any better in university, although I was able to avoid more of it. Stats and economics were the only required courses in my undergrad that seriously involved math. I squeaked by in both.
And now, here I am, diving head first into algebra, graphs and complicated sounding things like production possibility curves, opportunity cost, and elasticity. And that’s only two weeks into the first of two economics courses in my Master of Public Administration degree.
It’s terrifying. I mean really terrifying. My biggest fear is failure, and tackling this subject puts me in great danger of having that fear spectacularly realized.
But at the same time, I feel like it’s high time I get over this particular fear. That’s the attitude I decided to set for myself as this course loomed before me.
So that’s nice, I’ve got a good attitude. But here’s the amazing thing: this math, this economics – it’s constantly on my mind. If you were to stick electrodes all over my head, you’d see a brain lit up like a Christmas tree, working, struggling, stretching, growing.
I may be a fish out of water, but I’m a very determined fish and also very curious. So much so that, even though I’d planned to take tonight off and start at it again tomorrow with fresh eyes, I found myself going back over course materials and doing some algebra and graphing refreshers on the Kahn Academy website that I’d recently signed up for.
Interestingly, as my brain buzzes with the sparks and flashes of a-hah moments when I get it and steam comes out of my ears when I don’t, a link to a blog post from the Kahn Academy founder plopped into my inbox today. In essence, it said that failure is good because it’s only when our brains struggle that they grow.
Yes, I actually brought myself to type those words. Failure is good.
This is a major breakthrough, folks. If you knew me, you’d understand that this is really big news. Other arguments in favour of that statement, like Einstein failing umpteen times before making game-changer discoveries, never really sank in. Logically, they make sense, but they weren’t able to penetrate my fear.
But this one…maybe it just hit at precisely the right moment for me to finally buy it.
Not that I plan on failing this course. Oh no. I’ll fail umpteen times at practice questions all in preparation for successfully finding my way to the minimum required B+ average, at least.
In order to do that, I spent Labour Day stocking my freezer with homemade meals because now that school’s back in, I can’t afford the opportunity cost to my studies of cooking mini-turkey meatloaves.
You see? I’m learning!
ps – How to make mini meatloaves? Just take your favourite meatloaf recipe and make it in a muffin tin. Easy peasy.