The Importance of Being Mathematic

Oh, my goodness, my beautiful daughter, I need to let you know a little secret of mine. Only those closest to me know of my inner, deepest struggles with this. The pretending all the time, the lying and hiding, the shame, the sleepless nights, and exhaustive days just trying to hold it together one more day. Oh, there’s help for people like me. Special places we can go and get help from people who have made helping people like me their life’s work. We can confess our struggles with walking around daily needing it, craving it, and knowing that we can’t live without it – yet having it? Having it almost kills us!
Math, I must confess, and possessing the knowledge of figuring out this language, has been my nemisis my whole life. Oh, how I wish my parents had educated me on math and how integrated it is in a person’s daily life! (and in all honesty, I could just be blocking out their efforts)
When you are young, at least my friends and I believed that you were only going to use math when you grew up if you were a doctor, an astronaut, or a math teacher. Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh how wrong we were!
True story: My freshman year of high school my algebra teacher, Mr. Brokaw, was quite happy to see another Keck kid. The previous three had been so engaging in his class and were ‘A’ students. While, I was able to stay on his good side with my sunshiny personality and an occasional German-chocolate cake, I skated by with a ‘C’ – lowering the ‘Keck’ reputation a few points. My junior year came and my Algebra II teacher had the same initial thought about me. The 4th Keck to grace his classroom – Yes! Clearly, the Keck reputation for math brilliance had preceded me again! Damn my smart siblings! My teacher noticed within the first month that I was ‘different’ from my brother and sisters and suggested maybe I come in after school for about 30 minutes for some extra ‘help’. After all, he would tell me time and again, in his ….however long he had been teaching there at that time….years there he had NEVER approved someone dropping his class. Never? I thought. NEVER! So, what started out as extra help every day until 4:00 pm soon turned into everyday until 4:30. Then every morning starting at 7:30. Yes, daily I went and worked on math from 7:30 am until 8:20 when the bell rang for first period, and then after school from 3:20 till 4:30 – every stinking day! The week before Christmas break that semester, my teacher, Mr. Mohrman, suggested that I go ahead and get a drop/add slip from the office. He would sign it. Maybe I could take an art class. (The art and anything crafty gene escaped my DNA makeup, as well – not the other 3 Keck siblings – just mine. But, that’s another letter!:)) So, I got an early Christmas present and was able to drop Algebra II and breathe a big sigh of relief! Whew! I had gone to hell and survived to tell you about it.
My point is….from retail transactions ,figuring out your household budget, taxes, math is a part of everything! And I have yet to come across any job that you will NEVER use math in. You could also grow up to have genius children who, when teenagers, would rather stay home on a Saturday night and debate the various definitions of numbers in math – who knew there were so many? – and not be able to get in on the heated debate because for all you know they are swearing at each other in some alien language disguised as math talk!
Study it. Study it again. And study it again. You have already shown signs of a similar struggle to mine during this past year in school. We were able to get you a tutor, but unfortunately it didn’t help much.
We have looked into an after school program that specializes in math and reading tutoring and is very successful. Someday we will be able to get you into that program, that is a promise!
But, for now, try to not be intimidated by it. It’s just numbers and moving them around. Nothing to be scared of. (Although, I am secretly scared everyday at my job!)
But if you are afraid of it, if you let yourself be defeated at an early age then, quite frankly, you will set yourself up for financial problems for the rest of your life.
Get to know math. Get a positive attitude about it. Dive right in and submerse yourself with math. It will be woven into most facets of your life – so get happy, get comfy, and get MATH!

I love you very much, and remember that your gifts and brilliance are not measured by math knowledge alone – if at all. You are wonderful and I honor you!
Love, Mom

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