How Do I Learn Basic Math as an Adult?
Date: 08/02/2004 at 12:40:18 From: Valerie Subject: Psychology Stats I am a counselor, and I would like to take a course on Statistics in Psychology, but I have not studied math for over 20 years. Math was also never a strong subject for me. I need to take an entry test to get into the stats course, so I'm wondering what the best way to brush up on my math skills is? I'd also like to get over my dislike of math. What do you recommend?
Date: 08/04/2004 at 23:22:29 From: Doctor Mitteldorf Subject: Re: Psychology Stats Dear Valerie, You've asked an interesting question. Here's my advice: First, recognize that there are no shortcuts. If you want to learn 5 years of middle school and high school math, it's unreasonable to expect yourself to do it in one year. With intense study you might do it in 3, but it is more realistic to think of it as a long-term project for a full 5 years. Second, get out some books that make the stuff interesting. Don't try to pore through your old 8th grade math text. I remember the first math book I read, by Isaac Asimov, called "Realm of Numbers". It came from a "gee whiz" attitude. Isaac Asimov was a person of wide-ranging curiosity who constantly asked questions and found relationships, and was interested in whatever it was he was learning, from biochemistry to Gilbert and Sullivan. That was 40 years ago, but there are other, more recent books that make math fun. Try "Number Devil" by Hans Magnus et al. There are other books as well, probably directed at kids, but don't be proud. Third, solve problems. Find them in the books, think them up yourself, create them from the world around you. Work on them in your spare time. Dream about them and wake up writing down numbers and equations. Go for long walks where you puzzle out loud how to solve a problem that has stumped you. The time you spend trying out solutions that turn out to be dead ends is not time wasted. In fact, that's where all your real learning is going to take place. No one ever learned math from reading a book, or from watching someone else do it. The book is there just for inspiration, for posing problems. You have to do the work yourself, and put in the time exploring your ideas wherever they lead, to their logical conclusion. - Doctor Mitteldorf, The Math Forum http://mathforum.org/dr.math/
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