Thursday, May 09, 2013

Euclid Book 1

or, why I wish I had a blackboard in my living room.

There's this great thing on YouTube, "Mathematicsonline" that has a whole bunch of beginner Euclid. But his playlists are all messed up and out of order, so I'm putting them together.

Here, now you can learn something while you surf.

A long time ago I found a reason to upgrade my math skills (I may have told y'all this story before.) so I enrolled in this rather neat thing they had in Vancouver to help adults catch up with educational things they'd missed for various reasons in school. It wasn't exactly "adult upgrading". Being the Left Coast, they gave much thought to creating something that wouldn't hurt our "self esteem" (ie: our egos) so they set it up, quite ingeniously, to have upgrading "streams" in the various subjects into which you could find your starting point and go forward as fast or as slow as you wanted and as far as you wanted. In theory, you could start with first grade math and go all the way through to calculus (or whatever) and physics, (assuming they could find a teacher who knew it).

It was staffed by retired university professors and people like that who wanted to help out but who knew what they were doing. It was a drop-in sort of thing, so you just went when you could. Everyone was very friendly and supportive, and they were careful not to make you feel like an idiot for having blown off your education the first time round. It was pretty great, actually, and if there were ever to be a highschool set up like that, it might be worth a try for homeschooling types.

So, anyway, I started with a tested math level of about grade nine and quickly discovered that my math troubles had been more connected to my difficult home situation than anyone had previously thought, and I shot ahead like a mathematical bullet. I was greatly relieved, actually, since I had thought all that time that I was somehow mentally defective. That the math part of my brain simply didn't work as well as normal people's. It turns out that I'd just had lousy teachers, starting with my mother.

She, with her undergraduate degree in Math and her authorship of a math text and then her engineering degree, had no idea how to teach someone who "didn't get it," and all of our attempts at either teaching me math or doing math homework had ended up with the following screaming match: "I can't do it! I just CAN'T DO IT!!!" "I DON'T KNOW WHY, AREN'T YOU SUPPOSED TO BE MY KID?"

Anyway, I was glad to discover that there wasn't actually anything wrong with my brain except a habit of panicking whenever I sat down with a math book. If they'd had YouTube at the time, I'd have not bothered ever touching a math book again.

Ultimately, the thing I learned about myself was that I LOVED geometry. There was that memorable moment when I realised what geometry and philosophy had to do with each other: geometry was just a kind of way of diagramming the underlying nature of reality, and proving that it is real, that the rules that set up everything, the universe (and presumably whatever there is other than the universe) are absolute, immutable and non-contradictory, that the universe was rational.

Ahhhhhh... rational...Mmmmmm...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you just made Sir Isaac Newton smile.