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RumMunkey
12-27-2004, 10:24 PM
Quick history:
I have always done poorly in Math. Every school year quickly became a frustrating mass of confusion when Math class rolled aound. In short order frustration led to hate which led to rebellion and now I am math-illiterate. I've gotten by just fine, but I want to go back and get it now that I am older. (WARNING: I cannot express how poor my math skills are! Simple multiplication is often a challenge for me!)

So, I've been looking into "methods" of learning math outside of the standard memorization of the multiplication tables.

The "Trachtenbeg" method seems to intrigue me. In a 'first lesson is free' type website I quickly picked-up the method for the x11 set (from left to right: write down the last number, add each set of digits together, then write down the first digit - done). I grabbed that extremely quickly as it is in a more visual manner to which I can relate far better than the abstracts associated with standard math.

I'd like to hear opinions on the rest of the Trachtenberg method, other methods (and tricks), and any advice on the best (and quickest way) I can get a far better handle on basic mathematics.

lost in the post
12-27-2004, 11:46 PM
I'd like to hear opinions on the rest of the Trachtenberg method, other methods (and tricks), and any advice on the best (and quickest way) I can get a far better handle on basic mathematics.

Tough to know what's best for you without seeing you do math. I'm not familiar with Trachtenberg.

Without knowing more details, here's my random generic suggestion. In math, there is Doing, and Understanding. Skill vs. Concept.

Possibly the schools tried to beat too much Skill into you, and ignored the Understanding part. I've seen that a lot. Maybe you'd do much better, or be a lot happier, starting with concepts first, and then building out to skills. Especially since you're older. We have all these numbers and symbols and stuff, but what do they all mean? When we multiply, we do this and that, but why? How come it works? What's going on? Etc.

The problem with this approach, though (if it even sounds good to you in the first place), is that you need to have, on call, someone with a really good conceptual understanding of basic math, who can pop the hood and tell you what's going on inside in an understandable way -- and such people are uncommon.

Worked for an old girlfriend of mine, anyway. She's still a math-phobe, but actually handles math better than most, now.

Oh, and it's good that you know you're better with visualizations. Any basic (or advanced) math can be represented visually.

TJdude825
12-28-2004, 01:00 AM
If you happen to be interested in the problems in the way math is taught, which could be leading to your problems with math, there are a zillion threads on the subject. Do you want someone to do a search?

RumMunkey
12-28-2004, 08:47 AM
Thanks, TJdude825 I did a search and found just that. I agree with many of the theories discussed in previous threads. Right now, I'm more or less looking for a way to fix it rather than complain about what scarred me.

js_africanus
12-28-2004, 11:34 AM
I'd like to hear opinions on...other methods (and tricks), and any advice on the best (and quickest way) I can get a far better handle on basic mathematics.
How basic?

I guess one thing to keep in mind is that you may frequently find yourself unable to understand something when understanding it is simply impossible. One doesn't really understand the alphabet, for example. You've got your "a" and your "b" and so on up to "z." That is simply a common convention that is codified in the language. Once you know the alphabet, then you can begin to do things where understanding becomes relevant.

Similarly, Cartesian coordinates always were troublesome for me. At some point I realized that I had to stop feeling like I didn't understand because understanding was not a relevant concept. You have a flat numberline and you have a vertical number line and they cross where they are both zero. There is nothing to understand—that's just what it is, so put into a file in your brain. Slope is how many points up divided by how many points over. Now there is some understanding, but not much—it's mostly just a definition.

Learning multiplication is just learning a recipie, nothing more. There are different ways of doing long multiplication and division. (I went to grad school w/ a woman from Eastern Europe and she couldn't divide polynomials because she had learned a method of division different from what we do in the West.) When you are learning multiplication, don't think about trying to get it, think about doing the steps. It's sort-of zen, from what I've read. Concentrate on the steps. Concentrate on doing all the steps, every time and without fail.

Your goal is to be math literate, right? That is a long process. I would suggest looking into a community college and find out if you can audit their classes. (That's where you don't take them for credit and they only cost fifty or sixty bucks to take.) Go back to the most remedial class they have. That would be my suggestion.

I wouldn't pay for a method—unless it was the Michelle Trachtenberg method. You can swing by the bookstore and look in the math section—there should be plenty of books on how to do basic math. Then you can get the book you want from the library.

The fact that you want to learn it is probably the single biggest element to your success. I was terrible at math until I had a reason to learn it.

IMHO.

bluecanary
12-29-2004, 10:57 AM
Ah, a question I can answer!

I have in front of me a book, 'The Trachtenberg Speed System Of Basic Mathematics', (I'll send you some more information about the book if you like). I'm quite good at doing maths the usual way and I'm not really a visual thinker, but when I took the book on holiday with me and practiced for a while I found I could answer multiplication questions faster than doing it by the usual method.

Of course, the blurb at the front is full of high promises, (e.g. on the back of the book: "Can you multiply 5132437201 by 452736502785 in seventy seconds without reaching for your calculator? Well you could if you used the techniques in this revolutionary book...", but it still takes time and practice to work at it.

Once I got back from holiday and had to do coursework and stuff again it got neglected of course and I forgot most of it. I think you'd have to keep practising doing it in your head and on paper to keep a hold on all of the different methods.