
 digits
 Novice
Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Yes, I agree that Math is fun! All the branches of Mathematics are interesting and beautiful. My husband is a math major, and I have had the privilege of sitting in on many wonderful discussions of mathematics, physics, cosmology, geometry and so forth. I also enjoyed the introduction to number theory and set theory I received in the "Modern Math for Elementary Teachers" course I took for my K through adult teaching credential.
Yet I have never been allowed to study higher mathematics because I could not master grade school arithmetic. By the end of eighth grade I still did not know my multiplication tables and I still was counting on my fingers.
In high school I was not allowed to take the usual lab science courses because I had not completed algebra 2 and trigonometry. I got a C minus in algebra 1 and a D in Geometry. I dropped out of algebra 2 and tried to take a make up course in summer school, but was asked to leave the class because I was "holding back the others"!
In college, which was a small liberal arts school, I was offered no math and no real science, only three lecture courses. I was not allowed to take any science courses because of my lack of high school arithmetic.
Because of my dyslexia, I could not touch type fast enough for secretarial jobs but was "overqualified" for filing and phones. Because I did not have an MA, I could not teach any of the liberal arts subjects I had studied in college.
Except for a few years of teaching and substitute teaching in elementary school, which did not suit my personality, I have never had a job that requires a college degree. I have been consistently under employed and under paid, and have worked with and under the supervision of persons younger and less educated than I am. I have worked physical labor, blue collar, assembly, driving, landscaping, home health care, switchboard, janitorial, housework, child care.
When I joined social groups where I might meet professionals, I frequently was avoided as soon as they learned what my work was.
Ironically, when I first took a grade school teaching job, my family and friends were disappointed; they thought it beneath me because of my high IQ, 98th percentile, yet I never got a job paying as well as teaching afterwards!
I received several IQ and psychological tests as a child and young adult because of my underachieving, but back then in the 50s and early 60s) family and school did not know about depression, ADD, Asperger's Syndrome, and dyslexia, including dyscalculia. I was just a troublesome person who did not fit in anywhere.
As an adult I have tried to take various elementary arithmetic courses, surveying, trigonometry, GIS systems, computer graphics, CNC, to make myself more employable, but I am unable to learn and follow in a classroom setting and I am unable to study in the noisy, talking study areas and computer labs currently available at the local community colleges.
Over the last decade, as I read most of the recently published stories of people with autism, Asperger's, ADD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia, I finally recognized myself and my husband as belonging in those categories. I managed to find psychologists specializing in the spectrum (ASD) and received a diagnosis. I also went to DVR to qualify for accommodations in the classroom, but the schools will still not give me a quiet place to study. They are catering to what they consider the new, young, pluggedin, multitasking generation. I wonder what will become of the new generation of dyslexics and ADD sufferers?
When I was puzzled by my unexpected success and enjoyment of the course in "Modern Math for Elementary Teachers", the professor explained it to me thusly: "In elementary and high school they were only teaching you Arithmetic, which machines can do; I was teaching you Mathematics, which requires the human mind!"
Temple Grandin feels that it was a mistake for her to stop her high school arithmetic studies when she was failing them, because she could have done higher mathematics with ease. Thomas West in his book "In the Mind's Eye" Prometheus, 1997, gives several examples of persons who could not do high school arithmetic, yet were successful in higher mathematics, including: Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Dodgson, Poincare, Edison, Tesla.
Because of my misery in school and the crippling and stunting of my personal and professional life because of school difficulties, I have a very negative evaluation of schooling as it is inflicted today, and of arithmetic studies as they were inflicted on me and as they are still being required for testing and further schooling.
It is a vicious circle saying "you need to learn multiplication tables or square roots because you will need them in some other arithmetic or profession". During my miserable years of trying to find a better job or prepare myself for some better profession, I took several courses in selfevaluation, received career counseling, and filled out aptitude and interest tests and inventories. My interests always came back to science and engineering,but of course I could not take any of those classes.
I personally interviewed two dozen working, degreed and certificated scientists and engineers in various fields asking them how many arithmetic courses they had taken to receive their diplomas, and how many of those courses they used currently in their work. All but one answered that in fact they did not use any of those courses any more. When they needed a computation or calculation or exact quantity, they consulted their sliderules, slipsticks, calculators, computers, charts, graphs, tables and formulas. Sometimes they would farm out special data analysis to a specialist in that field. Several of them admitted that they would not be able to recite the multiplication tables or derive a square root with paper and pencil.
So, even though many of you feel that "Math is Fun!" (for you), I say it is not right to require your level of ease and flexibility with arithmetic as a proof of intelligence and a badge of accomplishment and education.
I believe that arithmetic and mathematics should be introduced and offered to everyone who requests it whenever they find they have a need for it, or if they truly enjoy it. About schooling I recommend rereading and old book from the seventies by Ivan Illich titled "Deschooling Society". The title says it all. Education should be lifelong and continuous, not inflicted exclusively on young persons to the detriment of all their other developmental tasks, and not used as a badge of superiority and a class distinction.
 bobbym
 Administrator
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Hi;
Welcome to the forum.
Not often I see an introduction like this! Lets talk:
So, even though many of you feel that "Math is Fun!" (for you),
I have never felt Math is fun, for me it is gruelling work. I think of it as wooing the most beautiful woman you have ever seen and she spurning you every single day. Can anything be worse than that? But it is something I truly love.
I say it is not right to require your level of ease and flexibility with arithmetic as a proof of intelligence and a badge of accomplishment and education.
Arithmetic did come very easy to me but at no time did I ever consider it proof of superior intelligence. I agree that the way mathematics and arithmetic are taught is imbecilic, particularly in my country.
yet were successful in higher mathematics, including: Faraday, Maxwell, Einstein, Dodgson, Poincare, Edison, Tesla
That is not quite correct. Faraday understood no higher mathematics. Edison did not trust formulas or calculation. Tesla reasoned in terms of pictures rather than mathematically. Dodgson was a dabbler and if you have ever seen Einstein's mathematics you would have seen a man fumbling with tensors and derivatives. Without the aid of Besso and Grossman there might not be any Relativity today. Poincare and Maxwell were skillful mathematicians.
When they needed a computation or calculation or exact quantity, they consulted their sliderules, slipsticks, calculators, computers, charts, graphs, tables and formulas. Sometimes they would farm out special data analysis to a specialist in that field.
That is true. Most of em, do not know how to get a number and just leave the problem on the board for those they consider almost subhuman, the guys who can calculate. They go home and come back the next day and find the problem finished by the calculating gremlins.
I sympathize with your hardships but we all have our own horror stories. The list of your jobs is very close to my own but a little less varied. Fitting in, is not easy for anyone.
In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them. I have the result, but I do not yet know how to get it. All physicists, and a good many quite respectable mathematicians are contemptuous about proof.
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Hi digits!
Math is not so much a matter of grey matter as it is a question of language  symbolism, definitions, algorithms, notation, etc. It was created over a period of thousands of years by folks that couldn't communicate together (like we are blessed to be able to do in this present age) and so we have a hodgepodge of language which is often redundant, misleading, cumbersome, harder to manipulate than necessary and at times just plain wrong. Not to mention that mathematicians often disagree on notation, definitions, concepts etc.
Most folks are led to believe that math is as near perfect as anything that mankind has created. Consequently they usually blame themselves ultimately when they have trouble with math. Unlike the sciences where theories come and go math is based on logic, definitions, axioms, theorems, algorithms, etc. So what could possibly go wrong? Hint: It was created by human beings.
Since you and your husband both are interested in math you might google "math the original four letter word" and enjoy some of the sites that pop up. Some of the sites point out some of the problems with the language of mathematics.
But of course it doesn't hurt to have great intellect, a photographic memory, lots of creativity, etc. for doing mathematics. It is just that most of us are not "giants" like Gauss, Euler, von Neuman, etc.'' I've always had to work hard to understand mathematics (at least the small part of it that I know).
Have a very blessed year this year!
Writing "pretty" math (two dimensional) is easier to read and grasp than LaTex (one dimensional). LaTex is like painting on many strips of paper and then stacking them to see what picture they make.
 ganesh
 Moderator
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Hi digits,
Welcome to the forum!
Character is who you are when no one is looking.
 bob bundy
 Moderator
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
hi digits
Welcome to the forum.
Ok, so we've got a little idea about you. You've joined ... so what next? How may we help?
Bob
ps. I'm Ok with arithmetic although I still sometimes count on my fingers. But I go all to peices when people expect me to be able to do their sums ... eg. "Oh, you're a mathematician; you can work this out" Me: PANIC!
You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself..........Galileo Galilei
 mathgogocart
 Super Member
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
.......................Hi dig0ts!
Hey.
 bobbym
 Administrator
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Hi digits;
I have a few more things I would like to add in response to your introduction.
The bitterness you describe should be turned on academia and the business world for not giving you a chance. Maybe you are right. I have no love for either of those so I am not going to defend them.
I think you are missing the point. What is to stop you from doing mathematics on your own, in the privacy of your home where it is quiet and peaceful? You seem to be equating mathematics with your ability to earn a living rather than as a subtle art form that can help you find some joy and peace.
You can also come in here. No one will look down at you and you will be treated with respect.
In mathematics, you don't understand things. You just get used to them. I have the result, but I do not yet know how to get it. All physicists, and a good many quite respectable mathematicians are contemptuous about proof.
 ShivamS
 Super Member
Re: Greetings from "digits" the dyscalculic savant
Welcome to the forum. Frankly I did not manage to read your inordinately long post though...
I have discovered a truly marvellous signature, which this margin is too narrow to contain. Fermat Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. Archimedes Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.  Neumann
