Friday, April 06, 2007

Not the brightest cookie in the jar.

I've decided to stop posting using mirror writing (for now anyway) since it means that I can only write a teeny amount, which hopefully you were sad to see. ;) Although it is fun and well I even used it to 'insult' (in a nice way of course) Po,and Noddy.(They seemed to have caught on now!) 'Sad' was the word that bounced of the wall when they realised what I'd been busying myself over, but it's ok now since the phase has passed :D I'm content that I can write using mirror writing if there's a need, although it's still not perfect.

Anyway, lets not get bogged down with mirror writing! This a new beginning .... well normal service has been resumed, so technically speaking this is not a new beginning but rather a continuation of where we'd left of. I must apologise beforehand for any further nonsense that you might have to endure. You see I have a very bad headache. Now normally I wouldn't mind, since this gives me an excuse not to revise! However I am now on the last chapter of Dr Eccles course. Woohoo! Diagonalization of matrices. BTW I must comment- why the heck is that word so long and horrible! I have lots of different versions of it in my notes. (I soon realised crossing it out was a messy business). I will henceforth use the 'abbreviation' diag. for diag..

I've decided to make sure that I can do the questions first rather than worrying about the proofs. Obviously I'm not skipping them out, but just trying to understand them and move on. There are quite a few proofs and some are quite similar however, I'm most likely going to forget them for the exams if I learn them now. I don't feel the normal satisfaction of having reached the last chapter- that's partially due to the fact that I should have finished it ages ago, and possibly because I've been slightly lazy by not doing some exercise. Incomplete revision so to speak, but my theory is that the foundations have hopefully been set and before the exams I'll build up on them.

Once again, I got sidetracked. Now the few posts that I made before the previous two really came into life because of a certain book that I'm reading. Note: I didn't read it properly first time round! Yes, I'm still chugging through 'Letters to a young mathematician' by Ian Stewart. I'm not going to comment on it yet (all in good time) however that book has made me look back at my own mathematical journey through life! (hyperbole alert).

Exhibit A (for now)- Year 5 mock SAT test:
That was when I was 9/10 years old. So if now when I'm 18 I'm actually 6, how old does that make me then? Minus something I suppose, so I have an excuse! Ha, its unfortunate that in the process of writing this post I had to do something for my Dad and left that booklet lying around. That darn La La got her hands to it, and well she was amused to say the least! In that paper I didn't do really well. I'm too embarrassed to actually put up some other ridiculous answers, like 'Write all the multiples of 3 that are greater than 10 and smaller than 20.' My answer: 4x3, 5x3, 6x3! And there's more, but thankfully I did better in my actual key stage 2 SATs. (SATs are taken in year 6, and this was just a mock paper.)

So as I'm looking back at primary school, (year 5 and 6 really, since I can only vaguely remember maths memories from the other years.) I notice that although I did stupid answers like the above (I was erm.... testing the teacher!) I somehow did alright. My mental maths was still rubbish - the trick was to have a rubber nearby (pockets have there uses ;) ). The only subject I recall 'hating' is English. Science, Maths and PE were my favorite. Although I am guilty of having a Brian which is protected by my skull!

I seem to have lost track again. Maths in primary school was fun. We used to work through these books and once you finished number 1 you moved onto the next level etc. I recall getting into trouble once in year 6, because I was erm trying to 'impress' this teacher that was visiting our class! I was actually embarrassed by that because Mrs H was most unimpressed!

It seems that it's best I move onto secondary school, rather than go around in circles hoping to remember what I had been thinking of before! Secondary school maths was altogether different. At 11 years old you don't exactly care about whether a teacher is good or bad, all you care about is that you try to annoy the ones that don't like you! :D (yes I was a bit of a hyper kid!) Anyway I liked my year 7 maths teacher, and in a new school it is inevitable that you meat new people and make new friends. I was lucky to meet such a friend who not only liked maths, but loved football as well. Ali even supported Man Utd! (that's what I'm going to call this person from now). Now me and Ali quickly became good friends and Ali was brilliant in Maths. 'Do so and so exercise' the teacher used to tell us. Everyone started doing it and in no time at all Ali used to have finished, and was given something else to do. (99% of the time his answers were correct). Anyhow, I then used to finish the set work and move on as well.

Now this continued for a while, and our class was now a unit. We got moved places and so made new friends as well, but still Ali used to finish in no time! Soon we started competing with each other. Friendly competition of course, to see who would finish the exercise first. We didn't sit next to each other so didn't know how much the other had done, but still this competition was fierce! We didn't only compete in Maths, but also football. However we soon realised that it was best if we both played for the same team! Now this competition was friendly until there was a disruption in our friendship so to speak! I was 11, Ali was 11 we both were a bit 'strong headed' and so had a falling out. About what I can't remember. But I do remember that after this, finishing the exercises before Ali became a matter of life and death. The maths teacher obviously enjoyed this, but there was a new fire in my belly. I must confess that 9 times out of 10 Ali always beat me! We did make up again, but internally I always had that motivation to finish the exercise before Ali.

In year 8 when I was 12, Ali was once again in my class. However we had a different teacher this time and she obviously had a different teaching method. I'd made other friends and so had Ali, and although we still played football (on the same team) it wasn't like year 7. We had been in 7B in my first year, but now me and Ali were in 8A. We'd moved up a set, and now entered the scene a person who I will call ... Trevor (well that was a nickname!). Now Trevor used to sit in the row in front of me and I didn't like him. We never used to physically fight, but we had our fair share of disagreements. (I thought Trevor was a bully and he later did admit that he might have been a bully in year 8 so one nil to me!). So back to maths lessons. The competition had become more intense. Ali and Trevor were now the competitors. Who would finish first? It was friendly of course, and we all used to laugh when Ali didn't finish first. However what they didn't know was that I was always there in the background. Hoping that one lesson I'd finish first.

I can't remember ever doing so, but once again Maths in year 8 was good. Of course credit has to be given to my teacher in year 8, because I remember missing 2 weeks of school when my Grandad passed away and she made sure that I caught up. I have my school book from year 8 (year 7 one is AWOL!) and I never knew that we were taught stuff which I later fully 'understood' in college! I also stupidly used to do the following: n(2+p) = n2+ np!

Another thing which I must mention again is the influence my Dad had. Looking at pages in my book (which he'd written on) brings back memories! 3x+4 =8 is of course easy to solve now, but then I couldn't do it. My dad told us about the 'gate' (wooh spooky), anyway if you had a plus sign, when you crossed the gate you became a minus and vice versa. If you were being multiplied to something, upon crossing the gate you were now dividing 'things'. At that age that explanation proved to be the best, where the gate is obviously the equals sign, and thankfully it provided me with some understanding.

What I've been talking about now are the things that went 'right' for me in terms of my maths. The main contributors to this it seems are Ali, Trevor, my two maths teachers and my Dad. At this moment I probably enjoyed maths because it was the only subject which I seemed OK in. I wasn't doing too great in English, and my Biology teacher used to always call me the black sheep of the class! (i.e. the odd one/bad one). I was put on report in year 8 as well and it might seem the natural thing to say, but it wasn't my fault. My RE/form teacher had unfortunately jumped to silly conclusions. I had not called her a liar. Seriously, my whole class had been in detention by the PE teacher and I'd gone looking for her during break time because she seemed to have forgotten. I bumped into my form teacher on my travels and she told me that the PE wasn't in today so to go outside. I returned to the class and notified my classmates, but someone reckoned that they'd seen seen her during the day. So it was decided that I was to go and look one more time and check in the staff room. Unfortunately, on my way to the staff room Darth Vader spotted me and started screaming that 'did I think she was a liar- how dare I.' Just because I'd said that someone had spotted her earlier! Vader really freaked out on me and put me on report- I wasn't even allowed one phone call, or a lawyer! (in year 8 the teachers it seems, were determined to put everyone on report! A few of my friends were also put on report for stuff like 'chewing gum'! But I'm proud of the fact that my Dad still doesn't know about it). [aside!]

I do seem to remember silly stuff, and there loads more stuff from primary school that I remember (Mrs Freezer and her crocodile game!) however some people seem to have forgotten things! Now after that little distraction about Darth Vader, I was going to say that obviously everything couldn't have been rosy. Year 9 was were things got ugly, but rather than spoiling the 'happy days' post, I shall leave it for tomorrow!

You didn't expect me to make a disciplined post did you? I could go on forever writing about stuff that I remember, but I thought that you guys probably would end up suffering! I wasn't really that bad a child..... really! :D

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