March 16th, 2006

ravenclaw: math geek

My Mathematical Autobiography

I wasn't always a math geek, as shocking as that sounds. I just appeared to be as a young child because of math's reputation. Mathematics is the most easily assessed of the academic areas at that stage: if a child could work out really hard problems faster than everybody else, then she was good at math and therefore "smart".

I was that child, and my journey with mathematics began with a similar tale. As my classmates were learning to add and subtract, I was fruitlessly trying to explain to them that zero wasn't the smallest number. When my second grade class had timed addition and subtraction tests, we were to complete one side of the two-sided test in five minutes. I quickly discovered that I could complete both sides in five minutes while maintaining accuracy.

This idea of speed in mathematics continued into third grade. After my teacher discovered via a game that I could multiply faster than anybody else in the class, she decided that the other students deserved a chance to play as well. She put me to work with something I had never seen before at that point: long division. Since I had never seen anything of the sort, I had to learn an entire new method of doing mathematics on my own. This opened a new door; unfortunately, the new door led to boredom the next year when the rest of the class learned long division.

This boredom with mathematics remained until fifth grade. I was reading an encyclopedia article for a report when I began to flip through the pages to read different articles, as I still do. This time I landed on an article about set theory. As I read about Venn diagrams, unions, and intersections, I didn't know that I was planting a light bulb in my mind--one that would collect dust for years before being turned on.

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