Recently I’ve taken up a new hobby. No, it’s not birdwatching, or painting, or crocheting. It’s math. I’m talking about Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Statistics, and so on. I sit in my room with a pen and paper crunching through math equations for fun, and I experience some of the greatest highs I’ve ever had. I laugh out loud. I rejoice and dance. I calculate and clap.
This is very odd for me, because I’m terrible at math. Recently my cousin let me try out the game Brain Age on her gameboy, and I did miserable. It took me so long, the game said I had the brain of a 300 year old vegetable. I still remember multiplication tests in elementary school, watching the entire class breeze through hundreds of problems, and me stuck on the first one. Then the buzzer would ring and I would feel so embarrassed.
But recently I’ve thought about going back to school. I found this website called “Khan Academy”. It’s run by a guy named Salman Khan, and he just uploads youtube videos explaining how to do math. He’s been doing it for about a year, and he has thousands of videos on every subject from math to biology to history.
The site is free, and fun. You get little awards and badges for completing math problems. I got the “Nice Listener Award” when I listened to 15 minutes of a lecture. Once I was stuck on a problem and it took me an hour to complete it correctly, and I got the “Perserverence Award”. It connects into that reward center of your brain and doesn’t let go.
There are stories of 5th graders stumbling onto the site and being able to skip ahead to college level courses. Bill Gates uses the site to remind himself of mathematical concepts, and he homeschools his kids on it. School programs in other countries with no resources except for a couple computers connect to the site to teach math to their entire school. And it’s all for free.
So, perhaps I can get a head start on an Economics degree. Or I could pick up another teaching licensure. I could save thousands of dollars, and seriously boost my income. He eventually wants to teach every subject imaginable on it, and perhaps change the way we view a public education.
If I had this when I was young, I would’ve dropped out of school and skipped directly to college.