When I was at school, most of the time I could be found grappling with mathematical conundrums. It never ceased to amaze me that an alphabet called “x” could actually have infinite numerical values. Um, so why do you have alphabets and numbers separately, and then one fine day decide to mix it up?. Looks to me like a badly scripted reality show. Anyway, I was pained more when I reached middle school. Suddenly trigonometric values existed and whole tables have to be mugged up. Now I wonder why I wasted so much time on calculating such mundane stuff. I mean, I am working for the past 2 years and not once have my superiors stormed to my table, dragged me out, pointed at the sky and ordered “Find the distance between our offices and the Air India plane that is flying at an inclination of 30° over there, NOW”.
On third thoughts, I can forgive the people who introduced trigonometry. But I will never forgive the person who introduced logarithms to the math syllabus. I can boldly say that most of my eyesight was ruined by peering into the log tables that were printed on cheap, translucent paper and picking up wrong log values. I earned zeroes and disgusted stares from my teachers for not knowing log (3.5) is 0.544068044 and not 0.544068043.99. I never did master log, in the same way I never caught (most probably never will catch) the attention of husband material (not that I did catch the attention of non-husband material. My score in the Men’s section is unfortunately is the same as my Logarithms test score.)
And then there were other high-school disasters like geometry, analytical geometry, differential calculus (= nightmare) and integral calculus (J-horror nightmare). I somehow managed to scrape through math tests and pass school. But now, as I look back, I wonder if it all was worth the tears of my parents and frustration of teachers. The banality of all it. Why isn’t our syllabus more attuned to concepts we can apply in real life. Take mensuration, for example. Highly useful, especially if you are eyeing your neighbor’s land and want to usurp it. Helps you calculate areas and stuff. Or for that matter, simple arithmetic. Helps a lot. But calculus? It is as useful to my life as analytical geometry is for boiling water. I don’t have a problem if there are some students who would want to learn about calculus. But it is high time “educators” realize there are some rare gems like me who do not simply care if (d/dx) (a u) = a du/dx (I copied it from Wikipedia by the way) and should be given alternative choices to study stuff at school. Like surfing or deep-sea diving.
After all, the world is going to end in 2012. And what good does it do to be cooped up in classrooms and pore over log tables? No good.