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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
This is very, very cool

The American Mathematical Society did a special session about Fiber Arts.

Because it really is all about the math.

crossposted to knitting_chat

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I always wondered why I was no good at that stuff :P

Stifles rant.

It's your journal, rant away--it's just that I have dyscalculia.

*That's* a different story and you have my most heartfelt sympathy.

I was referring to all the women I know who think that math past basic arithmetic is both difficult and useless. You know - "You'll never need algebra."

It drives me nuts. These are women who run households - who shop and cook and *bake* and manage budgets, and some of whom also run offices or have other careers - one is studying to be a nurse, one is a pharmacist, one works in a lab. These are women who may not think of themselves as solving for "x" , but they are. And when I brought that up just this past Shabbat, they acted like I was speaking heresy. "She's not solving for x, she's just figuring out how much she can get with available funds." Um?

Algebra was not easy for me. I didn't learn it until I took geometry and chemistry, and then it all made wonderful, glorious, perfect sense - I loved making things *balance*. And it made even more the times I taught it. And then calculus killed me. Ah, well.

And I can see where calculus fits into the world, too. So...

But women, especially, are conditioned to believe that math is HARD and they avoid doing it - or believe they do. They're being handicapped in the worst possible way - told they really *can't* do a basic function. This limits what they can do - and even what they want to do.

There's a major knitblogger out there who thinks it's cute that she can't do math (and also to refer to non-knitters as Muggles). Fortunately there are others who show that it's not that hard and is pretty necessary. And, indeed, this knitblogger will do several attempts rather than do math.

(That doesn't always work. I've swatched and figured and still come out wrong - but it tends to take me only two tries.)

Being discalcuc - as I said, you have my deepest sympathy. But you didn't choose this, nor did society choose it for you. This rant is for those people who either made themselves this way *or* allowed the general culture to convince them that they were.

(Yes, I'm thinking also of a certain author, although I'm reliably informed that it's entirely possible she never had a "maths" class after leaving elementary school.)

I figured that'd be the rant. :) I need a calculator to do the necessary arithmetic in my life--and counting things (like stitches) I always get lost, because numbers reverse themselves and so do basic arithmetical operations. I can't tell you the number of near-heart attacks I've had because I added instead of subtracted or vice versa when doing my checkbook, and it drives me crazy that I can't count things like my supervisor can--somehow I get tripped up.

Ironically it's basic arithmetic that tripped me up 99% of the time. I have learnt to do math, the same way dyslexic people learn to read--but it's so much harder than other subjects, and it's not the standard methods of learning that work best for me. I remember the great sense of victory when I realised that geometry was the same thing that I was doing when I made a skirt pattern, because I can learn more of it that way than I ever could in a classroom.

I have got better with numbers since working with Photoshop, because I understand that I can make colours with them.

I do think that people would have tried harder to get it to work for me if I'd been a boy, but I'm so good at language-related activities that they just said, play to your strengths.

The funny thing is, you with your handicap are probably more comfortable than so many women without it.

Did I say funny? I meant frustrating.

I do think it's interesting, though, that fiber arts, which do have a heavy math component, are considered to be the province of women, who are encouraged to think of themselves as mathematically incompetent.

The same goes for cooking, now that I think about it.

Oooh, nifty. Must send the link to johnpalmer, who has a master's in mathematics. (-:

What's funny is, I found it while googling for knitted on borders.

Hi, Deb. Crystal here.

I'm not technically dyscalculic, but definitely behind the curve.
In the lower grades, I'd grok the basic math operations eventually -- but roughly 6 weeks after the test, when knowing them didn't count anymore.

(OMG. I can't believe I just typed that. Pun totally not intended.)

My math career ended when my HS algebra teacher finally threw me out before she had to flunk me. The joke is that I later spent several years as a tech writer for the Hubble Space Telescope HQ, where one of my regular tasks was the monthly update of the equations used to aim HST at specific objects of interest. Oddly, I sometimes caught errors by noticing that equations didn't balance rather than through (vigorous!) proofreading. But it was very much an intuitive process, not a mathematical one.

I was wondering who the filker who just friended me was! Welcome to the LiveJournal!

My algebra teacher in high school was...how do I describe her? Universally loved. She was helpful and dedicated and kind, working before and after classes for those of us who needed it. Which many of us did because, as we also all believed, she was not meant to teach high school algebra. She was meant to teach mathematics on the college level and couldn't help but teach above our heads. She loved her subject and got it so intuitively that she couldn't describe the process.

Later,when I started teaching myself, I noticed that most of the math teachers (other than department heads, of course) were *women*. Also note that many were at least a generation older than I was. If they were men, I'm convinced, many (not all, of course) would have been encouraged to take graduate studies in mathematics or other related subjects. But, as they were women, they were directed to education and teaching.

On the one hand, this meant that the teachers loved their subject. On the other, who knows what papers remain unwritten? (And three generations ago, my husband's great-aunt, who loved chemistry, ended up a Spanish teacher.)

Math is very intuitive. You have to go back and prove things, but don't knock intuition.