Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homemaking Tip - Why

It looks hard, doesn't it?

I just got off the phone with the Statistics tutor. She wants to be a math teacher. I’m not thinking she’s going to be a whole lot more successful teaching math to the slow-to-comprehend kids than I would be as a statistician. She gets frustrated with me for not remembering when to use what formulas. Truth be told, I get frustrated with me for not remembering when to use what formulas.

Like a toddler trying to make sense of the universe, I keep asking her, “Why?” “Why do we use this formula?” “Why do we figure it like that?” And like most answers that we give to curious children, she says, “Because.”

Now it’s come down to the final. I have a 93% on my 84 homework assignments, but I have failed four of my six midterms. And it wasn’t because I didn’t try or accidentally skipped a question and ended up filling in the bubbles one off. No, I failed because I can’t understand why or how to apply it, and therefore I don’t retain it.

When I called to order the final exam three days ago the girl said, “You do realize you have failed four midterms, right?” Like I could forget it, I have spent $600 and nearly 150 hours on this class.

“Yes, I realize that,” I said, “But there’s nothing I can do about that now.  Right?  I can't retake them can I?"

“Yes, you’re right. There’s nothing you can do about it.  No, you can't retake them.”

“Okay, well how about you send me the final and I’ll try even harder.”

“All right. Please verify your date of birth and address.” She probably nodded in understanding when I said ’62 was my birth year, because then she more than likely realized it had been a good 35 years since I’d had anything besides cooking or checkbook math. At least this is how she closed the conversation, “All you have to get on your final is a 55% to pass the course," then she paused, ". . . but you might want to aim for a 60%.”

I sat down today to study for the final with renewed dedication and confidence that the final is passable, but out of the first 20 questions I got 9 correct. That is not 60%. That is not even 55%. That’s when I called the tutor again and asked for more help; however, even though the session was to last 1.5 hours we called it a day after a half hour. For while I may not know why and she may not be able to explain why, at least we know our limit of how long to work on Statistics together.

I’ve asked three resources in the community who use statistics in their profession if they could help, but every single one of them said, “Sorry, I can’t help you with that part. The computers do all of that for us.”

So there’s my answer. At last. I finally know why I don't understand.

I am not a computer. 

I am a canner.

And while they both start with "c" there is a world of difference.

I understand canning.  I know why I do it and it makes sense to me. You take fruit at its peak and store it for later in the year when it isn't field-ripened and available.  The fruit tastes fresh and good, it makes your family happy, and it is very comforting to be self-reliant with food on your shelves.

Last week I bottled pears and this week I bottled peaches. I ran out of quart jars early this year so diced some of the peaches and put them in pints. Does anybody can peaches anymore? If you do and you want to try a quick tip, here is a trick I’ve used for thirty years:

Prepare the fruit and put in the jar. Put the desired amount of sugar on top of the fruit. (I put a scant ½ cup into each quart jar [no need to make a sugar-syrup].) Put a lid and ring on each jar and process the bottled fruit in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes once it comes to a boil. Remove the hot jars from the water bath and turn upside down for 12-24 hours until they have sealed. Remove rings and wash jars.

Even statistically speaking, it works really well.  The bottles seal and stay sealed and the fruit tastes fresh and firm (assuming you use good fruit to begin with.  Hales are still my favorite peach, by far, to bottle.)  

And one parting tip: Take all your general education classes while you’re young and used to memorizing things that don't make sense.  To date, those classes have been the hardest (and seemingly the least useful).  


Deidra said...

I loved statistics as an undergrad. But I've thought of going back to school (you know, why would the Hartwells EVER want to be finished?) and the thought of doing statistics terrifies me. Chris does statistics every day, so I've told him he could be my personal tutor. But honestly, the computer does most of it for him, too.

I think maybe I should stick to canning. When I canned peaches this year I wondered what your method was. I'll have to bookmark this. Too bad the peaches are long gone around here this year.

Good luck on that final!

Cali said...

I didn't know there was another method of canning fruit... pressure cooker?

I am so ticked about this whole statistics class. How dare a class make a smart person feel stupid.

YOU CAN DO IT MOM! Last hoop to jump through.

Marcia said...

Classic post. I'm using this in my education classes. AMEN.
You need to read Frank Smith "Unspeakable Acts;Unnatural Practices". He writes, "It's unnatural to keep repeating something you don't understand. If I don't understand what it means to say, 'The double helix of DNA consists of two interwined sugar-phosphate chains,' it doesn't help me to keep repeating the statement. Some teachers become very good at helping students to fake a minimal competence--and many students become very good at doing so. But they haven't learned anything useful, and have probably acquired some detrimental habits." Teachers that can't answer the "why" are teachers [or tutors] that "come to look and feel as if they are mathematicians, but never get beyond minimal mathematical competence . . .Faking ends the moment they run into the barrier of incomprehension [and can't explain or help].

Your problem isn't you. Your problem is you want depth and you're being tutored by a faker!

Jill said...

It sounds like you need a new tutor!

I don't even want to imagine what a state I'd been in if I had to do math homework and take exams again!

Alisa said...

I miss having fruit to can. When we get some I will use your method. I can't believe your math tutor. Exhausting and frustrating!

melanie said...

Oh man, anything with statistics scares me to death and it always has. My brain likes canning MUCH more than it likes math. Because it makes sense. (I can peaches like that too. Total sense)

I KNOW you can do this Jane. I'm so proud of you. Thank you for your example. Last hurdle and it's yours!

Nicole said...

I know your frustration well it took me three tries to get through Stats. I hated it. I would go every day listen understand then the next day I would suddenly be lost. No tutor was going to get me to understand. I still don't know how I passed. I am sure it was a miracle! Good luck Jane!

Julie said...

Steve is a GENIUS at statistics and an even BETTER tutor! Please please please call him! He would love to help! He helped my cousin with Physics (Parker even flew to Colorado so Steve could help him) and Parker got 100% on his final after 3 grueling days of non stop physics at our house. Surely we could get you a 60%!

Ande said...

Good luck Mom! What a worthless class. It reminds me of that thing on pinterest that shows an iPhone and says, "My math teacher said I wouldn't always be carrying a calculator in my pocket. LIES."

I wish I were there to help can (and eat) your peaches.