Saturday, August 23, 2008

Life Lessons of the Week (Part 1): Math really is important

This one has been a long time in coming.

Brief history:
Since I was in the 12th grade, every math class I've taken I've taken twice. (And I took my 10th grade class twice too). I've struggled with math badly since the 7th grade and can only seem to succeed when I spend a large amount of time and disciplined study in it. Growing up, I equated higher math with engineering and knew that I didn't want to be an engineer (my father is) and had no idea that math was actually important. Thus, I had little motivation to do well.

Economics is (surprise!) very math-dependent once you get past the principles courses. I've taken well over 50 hours of economics courses but have had surprisingly little math, and few of the courses required much calculus (I avoided ones that did). [I had a very hard micro class in grad school that was mostly calculus, and I received a decent grade due to a merciful curve (and many long nights of frustrating study)]. It's a little like driving a race with an engine missing a couple cylinders, somehow I have stayed on the lead lap but at the back of the pack.

So far this year I've read 3 books by mathematicians and 2 more about math. I now understand that if you want to know how the world/universe works, you need a lot of math. These books helped me understand that math is taught and understood poorly in the U.S.
This past week I've also learned well the difference between mathematicians and scientists and people with PhDs in math or science education. My current job encourages people such as myself to get a PhD in Education or Business Admin. Rather than be an economist, I could be an economics teacher, which are two distinct things.

During my previous job search I found out that I wasn't being hired for certain jobs I was qualified for on the "job requirements" list because I didn't have a math background.

So, I'm at a career crossroads. There is definitely a glass ceiling for me without more math training and a PhD. I definitely have goals and aspirations that will be almost impossible to achieve without more training.

There comes a time in life where you can either "accept" your "limitations," or you can push harder to see if you can expand your limits.

So, I've made a resolution:
I'm going to spend every evening working my way (back) through Calculus I on my own. Next semester, I hope to register for Calculus II on campus and pass the class the first time. Now that I see how necessary math is, and how useful it is, I think I'll have the motivation to learn mathematics.

If I am successful, I will take further steps to become an economist.

1 comment:

TaylorW said...

yes, math is the "perfect science" because It has absolute truths. It points to GOD!