I just completed a test on my scientific literacy. The test was 50 questions from Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Meteorology, Paleontology, and Physics. I got 37 out of 50. I am not happy with that result; I am weak in Chemistry and Physics, two courses I struggled with in high school. I know the reason. I struggle with math. I cannot keep numbers straight in my head. Numbers scramble, they twist and turn. I can do a set of mathematical problems at home or in class but come test time I can’t retain the processes of untangling equations. Physics and Chemistry are very much math based sciences.
Physics and the numbers problem.
Physics was an absolute nightmare for me. I can visualize the experiments, the concepts make complete sense. I can see how things are supposed to work but once numbers are assigned I am lost. It is not even a memory thing; all the equations were posted around the room near the ceiling. They could have been written in Greek for all the good it did me at test time.
There was another student in my class. His name was Andrew he was very bright and a wizard when it came to numbers. Andrew could work those equations in ways I never thought imaginable. On the other hand he could no more visualize the experiments or set them up any more than I could manipulate the numbers. The two of us made a whole person, and we always teamed up as lab partners.
Unfortunately even with Andrew in the class I was still doomed. There were no partners for the tests. I would sit down and look at the test watching the equations and numbers slither around the page. I was hopeless and racked up fail after fail after fail. There was a massive crash and burn in my future and there was nothing I could do to avoid it.
What’s in the box!!!!!
Physics was my last class of the day and I was a bus student and had a ridiculously short amount of time to dash to my bus at the end of classes. Getting left behind was a disaster that had to be avoided at all costs. In order to reduce the time needed between end of class and catching the bus, I would take everything I needed to bring home with me to my physics class. One day I needed to bring home a feather fan that I had brought in for another class. I had the feather fan in a basic cardboard box that I tucked under my arm as I entered the classroom.
I was not the most popular kid in school, oh who am I kidding I was the least liked kid in the history of the school. I had a speech impediment that I was struggling with and succeeding in suppressing. Unfortunately I lived in a small town with a small population of students so I was immediately labeled a retard. Combined with the fact that I was devastatingly shy I was also labeled a homosexual. This opened me up to constant badgering every day. The day I had a box with me in class gave the other students a new opportunity to harass me something my fellow students never passed up. “What’s in the box? What’s in the box?” Followed by several highly sexual suggestions of what I could possibly have in it. For some reason I was not going to tell them what I had in the box, it was no business of theirs anyway. I finally had enough so I turned around and said. “It’s a letter bomb now leave me alone!”
Did I just say that out loud?
Yea I did just say it out loud; the furious activity of my classmates regarding the possible contents of my box came to a screeching halt.
I am 40 years old so I graduated high school long before Columbine or any other school massacres but it was still the absolute worst thing to say. The instructor responded “David would you please come up here.” This is it I thought, next will be counseling at best, detention again, or suspension, a swat, maybe the police at worst. I walked slowly up to his desk. “You are a smart kid David, but you are failing my class. I bet you are smart enough to actually build a letter bomb. If you can diagram one on the board and explain how it works for the class I will pass you.” A fog of confusion and relief surrounded me. This is not the end? All I have to do is draw a diagram of an IED on the black board and explain how it would work and I pass physics. “Yea ok” I said. He handed me a piece of chalk. “Students we have a special class today!” the instructor announced and sat down at his desk. I went to work.
I will not go into detail about what I drew on the board or my explanations of how it would work and where to get materials. I would like to report that even after instructing a class and impressing my classmates with my knowledge that their opinion of me was changed, sadly that is not the case. Years of stuttering and shyness will not be overcome by 40 minutes of impressing or scaring the hell out of my classmates. In fact the event probably just added the label scary psychopath to the list of perceived character and mental flaws they had all tacked onto me. However I did receive a D in physics that year, a passing grade just as the instructor promised.
I would not in any way suggest that anyone try this approach to pass physics or any other class. I was damn lucky to get out of it without being prosecuted even before the current hysteria that has gripped our nation over school shooters and terrorists.
Hi Mom! I am not sure you know about this one. J