YES, YES, and YES!

I am definetly a whole-to-parts learner. I was ok at math till I hit algebra. Being a left-handed visual spatial person, Geometry made instant sense to me. I thought trig was neat but didn't put enough effort into it. I barely survived Algebra II, and never came close to advanced algebra, let alone calculus.

When algebra came along, I was like WTF? How can you calculate the value of a term if all the values in the equation are letters?. Why would you even want to. The approach was almost always to start from parts - and I was like, "Who cares about this: If A + B < C, and C - B > A, then A is > or < B?" If they had shown me a real life problem and then introduced the math as a means for solving it, I would have caught on much quicker.

Taking college Algebra, stat classes and operations research in my 20's, I did quite well. After getting bashed in the head on the ghetto streets of Baltimore for a few years, the fear of being thought stupid for asking lots of questions in class, didn't concern me anymore.

**Key** to much understanding for me was the realization that math is just another form of written language. All written languages are symbolic. The phonetic nature of English just makes it much easier to learn. Math is simply a shorthand for expressing quantitative, operational, physical concepts. If you fail to grasp any in a sequence of mathematical symbols, you will be lost. If you fall behind early in a class, the teacher will rightly get irritated at explaining things covered months earlier.

You have to realize that

**many things are taken as a given which are in fact purely arbitrary**. Positive coordinates on a graph being in the upper right quadrant is purely arbitrary. y = x + 5 <---- The y-intercept is a meaningless concept unless you accept the coordinant grid. The fact that we use ten digits is also arbitrary. Computers just use 0's and 1's. We use ten because of our fingers/digits. Or 360 degrees in a circle? This is a reflection of the fact that 12 as a number base is much divisible than 10 (Look out for a future thread on this). 360 is more divisible than 100 or even 400 degrees. But they never tell you this is purely arbitrary. It F***ing pisses me off. It's criminal that they don't teach it to you like this.

When I make the effort, I have found math to be very rewarding. You realize how much complexity of thought can be consolidated into a few scant markings. In a sense, math is more useful in that it develops your logical thought processes, than it is for the specific things you learn to calculate. I'd like to learn advanced math someday.