From early on in my education, about 4th grade, I had decided that Math and I would never be friends. My parents couldn’t understand why I was thriving in all other subjects that were more language oriented, since I didn’t speak much English, than in Math the subject which didn’t require as much language competence. I couldn’t quite understand either, perhaps I just wasn’t interested. For the most part, I was a good student which allowed me to slack off and still pass math with at least a C. Most of the math I learned was through memorization. My times tables, for example, were drilled into my head by my father who insisted that I memorize them, and I did. Fractions, where by far the most difficult part of Middle school and High school math, I just didn’t seem to find a reasonable excuse for wanting to be involved in the learning process of math, let alone fractions.
After high school I attended a Rio Hondo College in Whittier where I had to take a math placement test, which would decide whether or not I had to take a college math course. I tried studying a few nights before, but I knew I had no chance. About a week after the test my results arrived in the mail, I had scored so low that I would have to take three math courses before I could transfer to a university. My fist day of college “elementary math” came and being in a class full students all in the same math plane made me feel more optimistic about math. The instructor, whose name I don’t recall, was very nice and approachable. She had a very interesting way of making us learn mathematical formulas; she sang the formulas to "Pop! goes the weasel" or most commonly known as the “Jack in the Box” song. One of the formulas I could never seem to forget is the quadratic formula as she used to sing it:
“X is equal to negative B
Plus or minus the square root
Of B squared minus 4 (a)(c)
All over two A”
As I sit here and write the “lyrics” to the quadratic formula, I picture her clapping and singing to the beat of the song as if it was yesterday. Some of the students thought she was ridiculous, and initially I did too, but I grew to like her approach to those dreadful formulas. It was then where I started to see math differently. I then began to use this very same beat when it came to learning anything in all my other courses. Even today I find myself trying to implement the same approach to the kids I work with. If found that you can sing the process of meiosis to this beat or even when it comes to memorizing prepositions. I might look or sound crazy to them, but as long as one student can benefit from it then I consider my work well done.