First Semester Update
The second quarter is over. I got an A, just barely, with 94 percent.
After retaking a high school Algebra II class for five months, I have learned a few things about math and myself.
For a former math phobe, perhaps the most surprising thing is this: I like solving problems. Graphing by hand is tedious (all those wobbly lines), and the graphing calculator does not interest me much (just plugging in numbers), but I do enjoy taking a sharp pencil to the page and isolating a variable and moving numbers around until I get the right answer. It’s a soothing mental workout.
I have come a long way from the day I stared blankly at a Virginia Standards of Learning test, perspiring from the foreign language before me and flashbacks of a high school math teacher who once wrote on my report card: "Michael is not in the Circle of Knowing."
Still, success in math comes at a price: Time.
Effort and diligence make a good math student. The difference between the math student I am now and the math student I was 15 years ago is improved study skills and, thank goodness, a little less hormoneinduced despair. (Oh and about $100,000 in college tuitions, a decade of work experience, and a Washington Post audience that gets updated on my quiz scores...)
Now, after spending half a year learning math, I’d like to turn my time and attention from my own math struggles and tap into those of today’s teenagers  my classmates.
I will still be attending the class periodically throughout the spring, but I'll be auditing it from a reporter's perspective rather than taking it as a student. I'll also be visiting other math classes to get a better sense of the range of math abilities and preparation in the school.
In addition to my perspective on high school math, I will bring in more insights from students and teachers about their frustrations, successes and daytoday experiences as they participate in the national push toward universal access to higher math.
As ever, I remain eager to hear and share your thoughts and ideas about how we can create a new generation of confident mathematicians.
By
Michael Alison Chandler

February 10, 2009; 12:50 PM ET
 Category:
Class Time
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Posted by: vlorbik  February 11, 2009 6:59 AM  Report abuse
94% sounds pretty good to me! Congratulations!
Math does take a lot of time. But it's worth it  and as your foundation gets stronger, you don't have to spend as much time reviewing some basics  the blocks are there to build on.
Posted by: KathyWi  February 11, 2009 9:36 AM  Report abuse
Michael, don't be a quitter. The kids can't quit and you shouldn't eitherotherwise you're doing just half the story. I mean your series is called "A YEAR Reliving High school math."
Posted by: nadine2  February 11, 2009 4:44 PM  Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.
congratulations!
i'd've been reading pretty regularly even
if you'd've just been "covering the story"
(as you propose to do next semester).
but your actual participation
having "some skin in the game"
made it particularly compelling.
anybody else, i'd tell 'em:
"you can't quit *now*!"
(it's axiomatic with me that every student
should take math till they drop 
it's the best thing in the academy).
but you get a pass.
you still have to pass it forward
by teaching to somebody else
whenever you get a chance, though.
keep on mathbloggin'! V.
http://vlorbik.wordpress.com
PS
we can create confident mathematicians
by taking mathematics seriously.
there's probably no royal road.