Facing my fear of Math

I know I’m not the only one who struggles with math. Just the thought of it gave me anxiety and caused me to shut down. I can’t say I hate math, I actually quite enjoy it once I understand it, but it usually takes me a long time to get to an answer. My experience in high school varied depending upon the teacher and the topic. I had some amazing teachers who were so passionate about the subject it was contagious. While others just cared about the class average and how that would affect their credibility as good educators.

At Quest, you are required to take at least take one math class as part of the foundation requirement. When I was looking through my options I was surprised at how interesting the courses sounded. Visual Math, Mathematics through Interesting Problem Solving and Spherical Trigonometry were amongst the ones I remember. I ended up deciding for Mathematics through Interesting Problem solving with visiting tutor Dr. Asia Matthews.

One of the Origami models made by a classmate.
A Pendulum made from scratch by two students for their final project and presentation.

I’m not going to lie, the first week was rough and a side of me questioned whether I could sanely continue for 2 weeks and a half.  I got to a point where I considered dropping the course even though my teacher was awesome and supportive, I was just really scared of the material. However, I  came to the realization: It is OK to not love a class. It is OK to struggle, to not find any sense in what you are doing and to be frustrated, it is all part of the learning process. I reminded myself that the goal of the foundation program is to explore your interests and find out more about what you like, but that would not be possible without bumping into areas that you don’t quite fancy. In fact, this is a good thing, it confirms that you do not want to spend the rest of your life working in that field.

My first attempt at Origami, after some tears, lots of crushed paper and YouTube videos I finally got it to be decent!

I must mention though, there were some really cool activities that were challenging but nevertheless interesting. Such as folding Origami! We also had the chance to pursue our personal interests for our final presentation. I decided to focus on what I called Curiosities of the Celestial Sphere after stumbling on a book called Heavenly Mathematics. I realized the book’s author is actually Quest tutor Glen Van Brummelen , so I went and talked to him about the material. It was really nice to get one on one interaction with the author of the book I was basing my presentation on. He also had really cool toys like an Armillary Sphere which can tell you the hours of sunlight you can expect on any day of the year and also, a map of the stars from the 1950’s.

The Armillary Sphere. There are only fourteen of these models in the world, and Glen owns ten.

I am grateful for the challenge this class has been to me but more than that I truly enjoyed looking at how some of my classmates were so passionate about some of the mathematical problems. How their minds were truly blown away when we got to an answer, and how they couldn’t stop asking questions. I find passion extremely fascinating and even though I didn’t completely share it in that moment, I could relate to it. One of my classmates got his back injured and couldn’t come to class, but that didn’t stop him, he called us on Skype every day and never missed a class.

Photo on 2015-11-18 at 2.03 PM #3
This isn’t a sphere to predict your future, but a Lénárt sphere to draw on! Did you know it is possible to create a triangle that is 270° and one that is 360°?

Math is an art in which I am not the best artist, but nevertheless an art that I still appreciate.


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