1.17.2008

don't do the dew


While there were some subjects in school that were enjoyable and came easily to me, math was never one of them. It's something I knew as a child and grew to accept. Sort of like the way you hate winter, but you can't escape it every year. You just muddle through it and think about spring.
Then those sore subjects slap you in the face when you begin college. There is no hiding it. When I was muddling through statistics I thought I would have a nervous breakdown with every exam. I had never experienced so much anxiety over a class prior and I knew where my grade was heading. Funny, those math classes never seen to have that bell curve to help those of us on the low end. I chose to withdraw from the course so I could retake it the following semester and get a better grade.
The next time the same feelings rushed back just like before; it wasn't any easier. I would spend much time meeting with the teacher, in tutor groups, and racking my brain to figure out what I could do to be better at this course. It seemed to suck the life out of me. The night before the final I crammed in hopes to squeak by with a C, even after several weeks of studying the best way I knew how. I got my first (and last) purchase of No Doz, a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew and parked myself into study mode until from 9pm to 5am. I wanted to walk into that exam knowing I had given this class every single minute I could, which I truly did. Probably too many minutes.
Then as I walked out of the class and began to feel like a junkie hopped-up on crack with all the craziness I put my body through, I finally realized loud and clear what I had been doing wrong all along. I remembered the instructor's words that I never followed: Study what you DON'T know, not what you already know how to do.
It didn't make any sense until I thought about the problems in the homework and on the tests I struggled with. Through both times taking the course I had trouble with the same types of questions. While others I mastered and felt proud to accomplish. Naturally, I spent time practicing problems over and over I knew how to solve because it made me feel like I knew what I was doing. I could have spent FAR less time on those and should been working on solving the unknown.
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Although I got my pathetic C for the class that would ultimately become an elective credit due to changing my major and I could never drink Mountain Dew again, I am finding the instructor's advice helpful as a mother.

I am working with my willful toddler on preschool activities at home and find myself planning activities I know he will enjoy. Of course he would love to learn about the shape of a circle if we play soccer and decorate cookies. These things are easy for him, it's the drawing of a circle and putting toys in a circle and sitting in circle time that is more of a challenge. But I hesitate to book too many of those into my plans because they will take more work, patience, and not leave me feeling as awesome as the easy would. He needs both, but a generous heap more practice with the things he doesn't know as well.
In addition, there are new things I need to be learning as a mother for each child and every new age we encounter. The fun activities are easy and come naturally, however, the developmental and behavioral information needs a bit of digging on my part to make sure I am directing these boys on the mark for their age.

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Stats teacher, I had never hated an instructor more in my entire life. But thanks for the tiny lesson that might help me to be a better mother. And thank The Good Lord above that doesn't include the direct use of differential equations.
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