Thursday, March 1, 2007


This past week's snowstorm disrupted many people's well-planned, and scheduled lives. It, also, offered us some wonderful lessons.

Sometimes while teaching or learning, you may be hit by a surprise storm. It may be a difficult subject that you are studying or teaching, and you find that you are stuck. You don't understand it, or you really don't like it, and you are just not making any progress. You may choose to dig in, and plow your way through. Or, maybe you decide to take a break, rest your mind, or at least, pursue a different subject for awhile, then return to the difficult subject with a fresh perspective. Or you may decide that the subject is not what you want to pursue at all, and try a new route. There is nothing wrong with any of the above methods, but sometimes, it is possible to become so blinded by the snowstorm of difficulty, that you may not see the alternative approaches.

In other words, if algebra is proving to be so challenging that you are stuck, sometimes you force yourself to keep trying (digging) to understand it for so long, that you begin to hate the word algebra. But, if you stop for a minute and relax, you may realize that a short break can bring a fresh perspective, before you put up such a high mental wall of frustration. After a week or two, you may want to try something that might shed some new light on the subject. Maybe books that take a unique approach, such as "Algebra Unplugged," by Kenn Amdahl, or "The Algebra Survival Guide," by Josh Rappaport. Or, you may even decide to postpone the study of algebra, and try geometry, business math, economics or some other branch of mathematics. Maybe you decide to take a long break from all math, and dig into literature for a while, or plow through an interesting period of history. A break won't hurt you, and will probably be helpful in the long run.

I hope that the snowstorm provided you with time to rest and rejuvenate your body and mind, and filled you with a blizzard of ideas and inspiration. It's all in your attitude, you know.


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