Saturday, April 28, 2012

Children's Letters to the Loser #4

Dear Complete and Total Loser,
I am in sixth grade and I have not been doing well in math this year. Not at all. In fact, no matter what I do, my teacher and my parents say I'll probably have to go to summer school. I don't want to do that! What can I do? I'm never going to need to know this crap anyway.
Alex, age 12

Dear Alex,
When the Complete and Total Loser was in ninth grade he, like you, was doing badly in math. He needed an 80 in his final exam to get a passing grade for the year. He took the exam. He got a 42. There was no way out of it, so he went to summer school for six weeks. 
He liked it. Each day covered a week's worth of material so the teacher, who wasn't a teacher at his school, taught efficiently at a brisk pace. They had two hours of algebra in the morning, then two hours of geometry in the afternoon. For the first time, the Loser could follow the ideas presented to him and absorb the abstract methodology behind them. Also for the first time, the Loser did well. When he went into tenth grade he again didn't do well in math, but he did better than before and passed his courses for the rest of his high school years.
As for not needing to know how to solve equations, you know what? You're right! You won't. But try to see it this way: Math is a discipline. Mastering it, or at least trying hard enough to that you pass, will train your mind in ways that may not have practical applications now but will give you the ability to see other sides of things that have nothing to do with math in the future. 
Hang in there, Alex.
Your friend,
The Complete and Total Loser

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