Subject: math, chemistry, biology...
Date: Thu, 08 Jul 2000 11:10:58
From: Michael Bruck, U. of Arizona

Your website manifesto states:

If you are a mathematician you surely know what I mean. If you are not, pretend you are, and next time when making a new acquaintance suggest as much. Chances of a response in the spirit of "Oh, really. I have always had problems with math," or "Math was the most difficult subject I ever…" are overwhelming. Somehow I feel that a biologist would not hear (at least not too often) complaints about biology, and a chemist about chemistry. I am sure of this because the term "math anxiety" has gained a respected position in our vocabulary long ago which may only compare to the position afforded to a more recent "computer illiteracy." But whoever heard or confessed of "biological anxiety" or "chemical illiteracy"?

Just for your reference. As a chemist I get the exact same response that you indicate that you get when you announce you are a mathemetician. "Oh really, Chemistry was the most difficult class I ever took" is a very common response.

Of course you could try an experiment. Introduce yourself as "a chemist", "a biologist" or "a mathematician" randomly and see what the responses are. Who knows, you may find it exciting to be considered a chemist or a biologist for an evening ;-)

Mike
==============
Michael Bruck, Ph.D.   University of Arizona
email: mbruck@u.arizona.edu   Department of Chemistry
  Tucson, AZ 85721

Subject: Chemistry and Math
Date: Apr-13-02, 11:54 AM (EST)
From: Kathy Howe

I have to agree with the chemist who posted in response to your manifesto. I teach chemistry at the high school level, and at every parent night I have several parents say "Oh, Chemistry. I hated that!!!" (Of course, they say this right in front of their children, who have just started my class.)

This may just be an extension of the point that you are making. Since chemistry is the first science most people take that uses a significant amount of math, their fear of math will make them fear Chemistry. I have quite a few students who can give beautiful essay answers on tests, but skip any problem that has numbers in it.

I also spend a lot of my time trying to convince students that they don't need to be afraid of the math. Thanks for a great site!

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