Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England




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

Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

10 thoughts on “Algebra

  1. Algebra …. arrgggh! My father was a maths/physics man, both brothers AND a younger sister took Math A levels – so meal time discussions could be just such fun … not.
    In frustration, after a while trying to get me to understand some algebraic problem, my father said “Look, Dd, if you go to the shop and ask for n cabbages at y, what would be the answer?” Ma rescued me:- “Several men in white coats with a straight jacket I should think”
    About sums it up for me.

  2. I completely understand, although I don’t have dyslexia. My algebra teacher in 8th grade was the absolute worst! I hated algebra! My first day as a transfer to a new school another new student and I had to play hangman using an algebraic term. Neither one of us got it and the whole class was laughing, while the teacher was sneering. Nth. WTH?? That was the word. Nth. The next year, in a different school with a different teacher, I liked geometry and then algebra again.

  3. Terrific photo! As for maths, and algebra in particular, I always struggled. Yet I went on to be a mechanical engineer/technical draftsman!
    Have a good weekend. xx

  4. To me, algebra is a thing of elegance and beauty. I love reducing a problem to a series of symbols; solving it is even better.

    I realise that this isn’t a widely held view of algebra, but wouldn’t life be dull if we were all the same?

  5. Three cheers for Mrs Uhdd!!! And huzzah for her final defiant sentence!

    On the subject of dyslexia I have today heard about these new entry level tests that are to replace the secondary age SATs. The idea is that children have to pass tests in verbal and non-verbal reasoning before they are allowed to sit any GCSEs. Hmmm… where does that leave dyslexic students, I wonder? Worth looking into, I think.

  6. DD, not sure which is worse a household that can’t help you with your home work or one that can’t understand why you don’t get it.
    Toni, I was talking with someone the other day who still can’t pick up a needle without her hand trembling (and she is in her 50’s)such was bullying she received from her needlework teacher, do you think bullying children go on to be bullying teachers?
    TLC, I knew that some one some where must like it,but it was very liberating when I realised it didn’t have to be me!
    Joss, I hope the BDA have got their eye on that one.

  7. Wonderfully and creatively written ~ showing where your interests and skills do lie 🙂 Teachers terrorizing children with such bullying behaviour is abominable and I’m sure many of us have been discouraged and deflated by it. It takes a long time to learn that they are the ones with the problem! Great post, and I too think the last sentence is perfect!

  8. Great teaching strategy, that…

    My first introduction to algebra was accompanied by much wailing of “but WHY??!!”. After that I learned to love it – three-legged-cat, you are not alone!

  9. Never was one for maths at school. Im a bit of a scatterbrain in that department. My mind wanders off in too many tangents to understand it all.Some of our teachers especially maths ones where very strict and didnt seem to understand. School seemed to pass me by until i discovered Engineering.
    My son knows im not brilliant at maths so understands.
    Tom the young lad down the street has been bullied with his dyslexia and it disgusts me to think it still goes on in schools.

  10. TLC is absolutely right, it would be a shame if we were all thought the same way, Cath, when I read your post about how you work I thought how there is no way I could ever do your work, my brain is just not wired like that. It get really exciting when you bring together different sorts of minds to work together, alchemy.

Come on, join in.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s