Thursday, July 17, 2008

Don't Count On Me

Since our employer moved office from the outskirts of Aberdeen's city centre to bang in the middle, myself and a few of my colleagues have begun decamping to the pub on the occasional lunchtime.

This activity might normally be frowned upon, but we are only drinking Coke as we engage ourselves in games of darts to pass the mid-afternoon break.

Our new pastime has revealed two things to me: that I'm not as bad at darts as I thought I would be; and that I'm considerably worse at mental arithmetic than I thought I was.

I had a fairly comfortable relationship with maths through most of my years at school. In fact, up until my fourth year at high school, I pretty much breezed through maths without much hassle.

Laziness got the better of me during that fourth year, but I bucked up my act enough to get the top grade in that year's Standard Grade exam. And that's where the problem started.

Bouyed by false confidence after seeing the words "Mathematics: 1" on my certificate, I decided to enrol on the Higher mathematic course. Which I quickly found was Higher in all respects.

To this day, I have no idea what possible use vectors, algorithms and Calculus can serve in the real world. Arithmetic and fractions I can understand. But proper mathematics makes as much sense to me as Arabic.

Unsurprisingly, I failed Higher maths. And in the intervening 11 years, I've never once been inclined to renew my relationship with the subject.

Apart from when subtracting 54 from 501 in a busy harbour pub.


oestrebunny said...

The thing with Higher maths is that they don't actually prepare you for how irrelevant it is to your day to day life.

I can work out the length of a hypotenuse. What possible use is that to me?

Mike Smith said...

I once played darts in a pub in Aberdeen. There were three nuns sitting in the corner sipping lemonade. My mate stepped up to the oche, hit treble twenty, then twenty - before his third dart spiralled across the floor and stabbed one of the nuns in the chest.

To which the score teller said 'One Nun Dead and Eighty....'

Inchy said...

The only thing that higher geography has ever got me is strange looks when I tell people that a particular cloud is a 'stratocumulus', but, thanks to higher biology, I can hapilly tell you the 4 proteins that make up deoxyribonucleic acid.

Aren't I clever?!