It made me think of my brain as some dark cellar, full of units of different sizes. The main path was easily lighted when pulling the cord of the light while descending the stairs. That path could lead to all sorts of knowledge that was stored in the units.
One of the smaller ones had a rusty door and opened with an unsettling noise. It had not been open for years. The room was so dusty and full of cobwebs, it was hard to imagine there would be something still there.
Trigonometry. Trigonometry. Tri-go-no-me-try. I had a hard time first spelling it, not even knowing how to pronounce it. I was stumbling over my own tongue, as we say in the Netherlands. With me spilling tea and coffee all over the place every once and a while, it will not be difficult to imagine me tripping over five syllable words.
There is a simple solution to this problem. Just get yourself on the internet and let your computer – or in my case, my phone – pronounce it properly. You can repeat this endlessly, just press the play button again. It is not like a teacher that might get fed up with its pupil.
In school I had learned the basics about sine, cosine and tangent, but until a few days ago I couldn’t recall what to do with it. It was something about calculating the degrees of angles, but I did not have anything to do with that after high school. I didn’t even know it was called trigonometry, which was probably a good thing. I had a hard time understanding these mathematical rules and if I would have known about such a posh name it would have been even more intimidating.
To get my diploma, I could only afford to fail two subjects and I knew math was going to be one. Back then I was struggling hard to get the 50% score that was necessary. At that age you would understand children holding things back from their parents, but in this case it was the other way around. Apparently I was not the only one concerned with my results. My mother played cool all this time, but three months after my graduation she admitted that she was still dreaming about me having my exams.
Linked to free, online courses, the mnemonic for soh cah toa is back and I am racking my brain. I am still no star at it, but for now it will do. The next challenge will be geometry with things like linear algebra, which already sounds scary enough.
So my adventurous tour through the cellar continues. Just do not tell my mother, I don’t want her to have bad dreams again. Or remind me of a certain math teacher. Now that would give me nightmares.
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This post is also available in: Dutch