What's Your Math Comfort Item?

What's your math comfort item? www.MathFour.comWhen I decided major in math, I was required to take a class called Abstract Algebra. (Yes – there are things more abstract than regular algebra!)

I wasn’t accustomed to going to class (yes, I was a bad student) so after the first couple of weeks I was far behind.

I started attending class regularly. But I was still lost.

Really really lost.

For instance, Dr. O’Malley wanted us to prove that -(-a) = a.

And my proof went like this:

Proof that -(-a) = a

Seemed reasonable to me.

Dr. O’Malley didn’t think so.

So I found a math comfort item.

I went to the bookstore and bought A Concrete Approach to Abstract Algebra.

I brought it home but never opened it. Just knowing it was there gave me the confidence I needed to push through.

I ended up making an A in the class and went on to take many more algebra classes. I got my master’s degree in a branch of algebra – with Dr. O’Malley as my major professor!

And it continued…

You know the rest – years of teaching, hundreds of posts on this website, a slight fanaticism of math education…

And of course the mission:

To change the culture of math in the home to be the same as the culture of reading.

All because of a math comfort item!

What’s your math comfort item?

I have a friend who always used “virgin pencils” on tests. I know someone who reads confidence boosting self-help books while taking math classes.

These days I have my tiny Back to the Future Delorean as a math comfort item.

It seems superstitious, but if it gives comfort there’s nothing wrong with it.

Do you have a math comfort item? Does your child? Do you encourage him or her to use it?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

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5 Responses to What's Your Math Comfort Item?

  1. Wow! Thank you for the post, free e-book AND the newsletter subscription. I am looking forward to learning from you!!

    • Too funny, Taylor Brione!

      As much as I discourage calculator use, a pink comfort item is always good to have!

  2. Thanks for posting this on Math Monday Blog Hop. Love the idea. Hmmm. Well, I don’t think I had a math comfort item as a kid. (Perhaps my problem?) Nowadays, it’s probably manipulatives. Any manipulatives. Base 10 pieces are pretty high on the list!

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