who likes hard sums?

I used to quite like maths. There’s a logic to it. A process. It made sense.

Until it stopped making sense. When words and language inspired and motivated in a way that algebra and calculus couldn’t.

One of my ME symptoms is that numbers are just numbers now. I struggle with what they represent. I have been baffled by Primary school maths for some time now, but given enough time and an empty page, I can muddle through. Spurs Fan only has to glance at things for them to make sense; I’m starting from first principles all the time.

Girl1 has a decent grasp of maths. She’d never claim to like it, but she can work it out without too much difficulty.

Until this…

The class are baffled.

The exam is today.

algebra- simplify

We have years of this ahead of us.

We’re doomed, I tell you, doomed.


33 thoughts on “who likes hard sums?

  1. I do 🙂

    3a**2 x 2a**3 = 6a**5 has all the info you need to do this. Multiply the numbers and add the exponents

    1. Hmmm, Girl1 did come up with something like that the day it was ‘explained’ but she didn’t seem sure.
      Now she doesn’t care because it wasn’t on the exam, but I need to understand it for when it rears its ugly head again!

    2. A-ha! Janie gave me the answer, after I’d worked it out with your rules. I did it right 🙂 You may need to be on hand for all sums homework! Thanks 🙂

  2. OMG! I haven’t a clue what that means. I imagine maths has advanced massively since my school days. I actually got Advanced Maths O Level but I doubt if that would be much help to me now!

  3. When I first started to learn algebra I picked it up really quickly and really enjoyed it, but suddenly it was like a switch flicked and I just found it so difficult…it was like a maze!

  4. “Baffled” suggests you expect it to mean something – but it is just rules, not meanings at all. The “x” is a rule you probably know. Brother above gets it OK – the 3,5 are just numbers, the ‘p’ and ‘t’ only somethings to put the powers (another rule) on to – BUT THEY DON’T HAVE ANY MEANING AT ALL – at least none while they are just maths – you play a sort of game – like chess or snakes and ladders, follow the rules. “Applied math” could say they are pears and trees growing at twice three times the rate, or possums and tigers, or something or something. Math does not mean anything (it is abstract). I think people feel baffled because in fact they are bereft of the feelings and meanings that matter to them, they search desperately for something that isn’t there.
    Gosh I get carried away – interesting post.

    1. Yes! When I was used to doing it, it didn’t matter that it was abstract because I followed the rules. Years later, I can’t remember the rules, and so try to make sense of it- a fundamental flaw 🙂

  5. Well, all this math I’m paying for must be paying off because I looked at that and didn’t see the question but the answer. If brother’s explanation doesn’t help, here’s another way to see it:

    When you are multiplying, your coefficients (the 2 and the 3) get multiplied as normal. Your variables, however, the “p” and “t” have powers, so you can’t just multiply them. According to the law of exponents, you will combine “p to the 2nd” and “p to the 3rd” by just adding the exponents. When you consider the “t” variables, you must remember the law of exponents which says if a number doesn’t have an exponent, it is treated as if it has an exponent of 1. So, “t” is actually “t to the 1st.” Considering this, you then add “t to the 1st” and “t to the 4th.”

    Being as I’m half a day around the globe, I imagine I’m late to this party so I don’t think I’ll be spoiling your learning experience by giving the answer: 6p5t5. I don’t know the way to type powers in a comment, but your 5’s are powers of p and t.

    Good luck girl1. Learn it now, I blew off math when I was a girl and I have learned to regret it. I can say it isn’t easy, but you do feel good about yourself once you “get it.” I just got an A in my advanced algebra classes this year, so if you want a tutor from the American perspective let me know. 🙂

    1. Janie, I’m all pleased now. I applied the Brother’s rules and got your answer :)))) Hurrah! (Note that the Brother made sure not to give me the answer. Pesky brothers…) I even tried to explain it to Girl1 and referred to t as being ‘t to the power of 1’
      Thank you!

      1. Believe me, the delight is mutual. I’ve been slogging away at math all year, and to actually look at something and be able to know the answer and why, and then be able to explain it is a marvelous feeling. Being able to help was entirely my pleasure.

  6. I agree–keep at it until you learn the rules, then decide if you are still baffled. I missed the first semester of algebra as a child because we moved country and it took me YEARS to understand why I was having such a hard time.

    This made me think of computers–they were built with rules and we get along with them when we follow their rules. When we get experienced enough, we can play around with ’em and become the boss of them! <:-D

    1. The maths teacher, as is his wont, was a bit dismissive, but between the class they worked it out. Girl1 wasn’t able to explain it as well as the Bloggy Buddies, but it didn’t come up in her exam, so she won’t worry about it for months again. I’ll be referring back to this post!

    1. I Know 🙂
      I wasn’t expecting to have to revisit sums like that for a few years yet. My head was fried! I love the fact that Bloggy Buddies understood and explained- what clever folk hang out round here 🙂

  7. I loved math up until calculus. But it has been many years since I had to do the tricky stuff. My daughter does geometry next year. I wish her well – lovingly, but from a distance, lest I lead her astray.

  8. I liked algebra at one time, but once it goes beyond “basic” I can’t seem to do very well. And now that I don’t really use it, I’d be lost entirely. If I had to help a child today I’d be a failure as a math teacher. I work with numbers quite a bit in my job, but only with a calculator! I love reading the explanations that others have offered. What foreign language were they speaking?

    1. Isn’t it mysterious? I has to come back to the comments with strong coffee, a page and a pencil to try and work it all out. Now I think I have it, but it could vanish again 🙂

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