Going back to school at 54!

I retired from nursing and decided to return to college when I was age 54, and now my brain had to open a folder I had put away a long time ago.

I retired from nursing and decided to return to college when I was age 54, and now my brain had to open a folder I had put away a long time ago. Algebra has always been like electrical wires in my brain connecting the positives and negatives at the right time. However, it may be true that repetition helps, much...Algebra has always been like electrical wires in my brain connecting the positives and negatives at the right time. However, it may be true that repetition helps, much like giving allergy injections to build up immunity. My fears began to subside a little. I mean I didn't feel like I was going into a fatal shock, so when I felt the irritation, I slowed my breathing and tried to focus on what I knew. You know 2+2 is 4, unless, of course, it is -2+2, which would ultimately cancel each other out and be zero. Kind of like the lights going out all of a sudden.

I began to see math as electrical wires. With each interaction, I knew that if I connected the right color wire with the right color, there would be a balance, but of course, if I connected the wrong colors I might cancel myself out. So when one route did not work, I tried another color until I found the two parts that went together. I could even compare balancing equations, such as completing the square to life in general. If everything is on one side of the equation, it is not a perfect square and if you balance one side, you must balance the other side. So, is life. We must balance our lives.

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Just about the time I felt confident about completing my square, it was time to learn how to graph, but first I had to know how to find my numbers to graph. That required learning a whole new vocabulary, like X is my domain and range is my Y.

Lines are more than lines in math. It depends on where your lines are headed; vertical, horizontal, or diagonal all have their own meaning. If it is vertical, it is functional as long as the numbers do not repeat itself. If it is horizontal, we must use the vertical approach to see if one of the numbers have repeated themselves (God forbid!).

If there is a number that has repeated itself, then it is not a function. But not to worry about diagonal lines. They are always functional because they are from infinity to infinity. So now, I have graphs in my head. The only place I can think I might use these are in hanging pictures, but at least now I know. I thought, but wait there are more graphs that actually curve, and twist and more freely up and down. There went the wires in my head, connecting with the wrong color. I felt a blackout coming on.

Going home, there is no solace or pity for my difficulty in learning this subject. My husband shows me that he actually used these strange graphs to build houses and then I felt humbled because I did not recognize their importance.

I told him that every time I thought I could see, the teacher changed directions. He says I must see math differently. I must see it as a path that has many corners. Around every corner there is something beautiful.

"Beautiful," I said.
"Ok," he said. "Let's say something new and interesting."
"Ok,” I finally agree. “Maybe.”

In between my math classes, I go to the tutor. One day, the tutor showed me something that was beyond where we were in the book.

"We're not there, yet," I said.
"Ok, don't worry, you will be," he said.

A few days later, I was in class feeling like I was sitting in the middle of the million different colored tangled wires. The teacher began to put equations, square routes and strange graphs on the board. Suddenly, I found myself participating. I knew which direction he was going and I was actually getting it. In fact, I was directing the answers as he drew graphs this way and that. After the class he said he was very pleased to see that I was relaxed and enjoying the class.

"It wasn't bad," I said.

I had already turned the corner!

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Deana Landers
Author for Morningcoffeebeans.com

Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more