Garfieldhug's Blog

This & That Including What Ails

My Nemeses – Math & Chinese Language

on June 30, 2019

I attain perfect or near perfect scores in most subjects and this includes achieving perfect or near perfect ZEROs for the subjects of Math & Chinese during my 4th year of formal schooling.

Actually I lie , I had an average of 30 to 40 marks out of a score of 100 for math most times and less than 10 marks out of a 100 for the Chinese Language!

I am odd, being an Asian and I struggle with Chinese whilst My English is decently good!

This is quite a feat to be at 30/100 for Chinese I tell you and my teachers used to throw their arms up in the air in despair as how can I who is near perfect for English, Bahasa Melayu, history, science and other subjects.

It is not my fault as I have a solid background in an English speaking community.

I speak English at home too and everywhere I went, English was my forte!

This had to change as PSLE came around soon and my parents did not like the red marks appearing on my report book. Frankly, I did not like the color red either.

My mum found me a Chinese Tutor and for 2 years this fantastic Mrs Chan taught me Chinese like no other teacher.

I was forced to memorize idioms, read Ba Jing and all sorts of Chinese Classics.

With classes on a 1-1 basis on an hourly basis, I did well as I improved.

It was through Mrs Chan that I did well for Chinese for PSLE and went on to take A Level Chinese. But, I just did not speak Mandarin well and I can understand as I could find no opportunity to practice this unless I was at tuition class.

As for Math, I struggled through school with it and when I left for university study to read my Bachelors at the University of Oregon (UO), my nightmare began.

I had to take a series of calculus classes – 3 terms of it actually and I had to overcome this in order to complete a core module for my Economics degree.

I went off to remedial class as I was achieving “A” grades in term courses for other subjects and did not want this series of 3 calculus classes to pull my grade point average (GPA) down from 4.0 to 3.0!

GPA was important to me as I wanted to ensure I stayed on the Deans List of Students!

As luck would have it, I had the most difficult Professor who offered the course that term. Prof Sherman!

He was the Nemesis of most undergraduates who loathe Math!

Prof Sherman cackles and is a stern man. He had no time for “imbeciles” in Math and he made it known and clear to all of us. I shuddered!

I studied hard and made it through in Calculus and did well in remedial Math to establish a foundation of math and made good my friendship with Mark Womack, a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) doing his PhD in Mathematics.

Mark patiently held office hours for me 3 times a week and I plodded off to his room for lessons.

Prof Sherman did not turn out to be as tough.

I too, went to Prof Sherman and explained my phobia for Math.

Surprisingly Prof Sherman softened down and offered me office hours to see him twice a week.

Each week I went off to see Prof Sherman and he taught me calculus.

Sine, Co Sine, tangents, derivatives of this or that etc.

Logs and financial calculators became the norm in my classes for the consecutive 3 terms.

I managed to pass with B+ grades and am pleased to stay  I managed to stay on the Deans List .

Math may have been tough but my doggedness and tenacity overcame these two nemeses!

I believe that if one stays focused in your goals and with a little luck and good hard work, I am sure you will achieve like me.

Work hard, work smart and ask self why you need to do things this or that way BUT more importantly, is there a smarter, shorter and faster way which yields the same efficiency and effectiveness! UO taught me this!

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9 responses to “My Nemeses – Math & Chinese Language

  1. Kris says:

    My college math was easy, except for me. One of my favorite professors was a maths teacher. I only knew him because he was like a friend. When my counselor suggested he tutor me, he was fine. Then, he realized what a dunce I was. I passed, but he did say I was the only student he’d ever had who was completely mathematically uninclined!

  2. scifihammy says:

    I think when you work hard at a subject that is difficult for you, then you really learn. My worst subject was French – partly because the teacher was bad! – I got good marks for Latin! Anyway, you get a great sense of achievement when you pass something that you really had to work for. 🙂

    • Garfield Hug says:

      Oh wow you did well in Latin – it is so tough. In our neck of the woods we do not need to do romance languages as we have mandatory 2nd language based on our mother tongue or simply Mandarin, Bahasa or Tamil. But yes, the sense of achievement is good when I conquered my nemeses.

      • scifihammy says:

        I guess most of the world has their own language and then English, but when you Are English, then in UK you are right, you do the romance languages. In my day, at my school, it was French and German (and Latin!). Now I believe they are offered Spanish too! 🙂
        No worries, there is always Duolingo for any languages you may have missed growing up!
        They even have Klingon from Star Trek!! 😀

  3. RMW says:

    Several years ago I entered an archaeology program run by UCLA… it was very hard work (and I was also working a full time job) but I loved it and maintained an A average. For various reasons I had a year gap before the last class. On the midterm exam I received a C minus. I was devastated. There were three of us who didn’t do well on the exam. He told us we all had a second chance but we would have to work like dogs. First, we had to retake the exam, then we were assigned extra essay projects and for the final exam I studied for days! Then just before he released the grades we had to participate in an extra field trip to ask and answer questions. I did all of that and ended up with an A minus in the class! That A minus meant more to me than all the A grades I had received! Hard work will win out!

    • Garfield Hug says:

      Thank you for sharing and letting me know that I am not the only one haha! Yes, hard work pays off and I am pleased you maintain your grade point average. I was lucky to stay on the Dean’s List for 4 consecutive terms and then I graduated.

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