It’s strange what thoughts come to mind, when you disengage the brain, knock it out of gear and leave ticking over for a while. I was standing by this river, listening and watching the tumbling water, contemplating you might say; when the topic of algebra leapt into my mind, it wasn’t a welcome thought.
When I was at school we had (to my mind at least) a truly terrifying maths teacher, I lived in fear of coming to his attention for you would be marked out, there would be no escape from his shouting or his scathing sarcasm his manner rendered me like a rabbit caught in the glare of car head lights, I would simply freeze in his presence, hardly conducive to learning anything let alone algebra. This teacher had a good stock of standard phrases and put downs, (as well as a keen eye for throwing board rubbers and chalk, kids today don’t know they are born……etc etc) one of his stock lines was that if you got your ‘signs wrong’ in algebra you would be ‘doomed’ and that you would ‘end your days standing on the Thames embankment contemplating throwing yourself into the cold grey waters.’
At school I never did get the hang of algebra and when I went ‘back to school’ a few years ago the subject of algebra reared it’s ugly head, at least this time I was able to explain that as a dyslexic, algebra simply ‘does my head in.’ I explained to my tutor.
- Algebra has the added disadvantage, in that incorporates letters and numerals (a bit like mixing your drinks gives you the worst hangover!) but certain letters combinations cause more confusion than others.
- mxn, looks like a flock of migrating birds.
- XxX, a chain link fence!
- bxd, mirror images are a challenge, so that rules out pxq as well
Second time round, I still didn’t fall for the charms of algebra, but it didn’t matter because by then I’d discovered psychology, sociology and creative writing; so now I stand on the embankment contemplating the cold grey waters, but not for the reasons predicted by my maths teacher circa 1973