Holes in my head

I’ve got holes in my head and I’m not impressed.  And you thought Mr. Pumpkin Head had problems.

It’s my stupid Statistics class, the one that is threatening to mess with my 4.0 grade point average.  I go to every class, sit in the front row, listen carefully, take notes, nod my head, understand, do my homework, study diligently.  I get it, I even like it.

Then come the tests.  Fifty minutes, strictly enforced.  Yesterday’s test had five questions.  Miss one and you’re A falls to a B.  Just like that.  I missed one.  Because I have a crack in my head, a hole through which all my preparation escapes.  A soft spot where the most obvious information becomes muddy. 

I finished the test in 30 minutes  and went back over every problem and I still didn’t catch my error.  Immediately after the fifty minutes were up, standing in the bright outside, commiserating with a classmate, I realized that I had screwed up, and I’ve been kicking myself ever since.  The problem blatantly gave us the standard deviation of two samples, and I blatantly treated them like the standard deviations of two populations.  Big no-no.  Duh.  I so totally know better. 

It’s the time-limit thing, and the self-imposed pressure to get an A.  I get in there and the timer starts and I feel like I’m skating on freshly Zambonied ice, super slippery.  I feel like I’m floating above the ground, unsteady, shaky.  There are holes in my head and my confidence is spilling onto the floor.  Ugh!  I don’t usually have this problem.

Last night, I told Ivan my sad story.  “Come here” said my giant 14-year old.  He gave me a hug.  How sweet.  Then he started tickling me.  Just what the doctor ordered.

About Zahara

gardener, cyclist, student, mom,
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17 Responses to Holes in my head

  1. STATISTICS: I understood the theory and maybe could write out what was being statisticalized through the process of statisticalization but never could do the numbers. I got F’s all the time. So statistically speaking I was going to fail the course, statistically speaking.There were always only 10 questions for statisticalizing. The class was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The test was given Monday night at 6:00 PM. 4 meetings a week. Well that is a statistic I arrived at without any instruction. Couldn’t I get a B for that? But noooooo. Then it was baseball season. Because of baseball season I got a D in statisticalizing. The baseball team played Monday nights and 4 guys in the class were on the team and in my frat and they took the test at 12:00 noon. They gave me a hand written copy of the 10 questions so I had the test all that time until 6:00 PM when the rest of us took the test and I still could get only 5,6, or 7 correct. See that’s a 50% or a 60% or a 70% for a grade. Those are statistics and would they give me a B for that. But nooooo. Yes I cheated but most of the other classes were so hard for me and if you fell below a 2.0 you got drafted and went to Vietnam War. 57,000 Americans and over a million Vietnamese killed. Those are ugly statistics, aren’t they? Four of my friends were killed there , a statistic I don’t like and there was a good chance I would have been a statistic too. I did serve my country as a high school teacher for 34 years! So that’s my story about statistics. Statistically speaking this will probably be your longest comment but today you resurrected a nightmare that has taken me 40 years to process. Yeah, it was 1970.

    • Zahara says:

      Wow, Carl, thank you so much for this comment. It really brings this post into perspective for today, Veteran’s Day. I am so glad you cheated war and death, and I am saddened to hear of your losses. Wow. Hectic Statistics is right. And you are truly a veteran of the trenches of high school inner city teaching. Thank you for sharing your story, it made me laugh and cry and ponder. And it made me forget about my stupid test. I want to make a copy of your comment and share it with my statistics class.

      • Yes, I served my friends and families of our African American and Haitian community my entire adult life. There was dope and drive-by shootings and death and football championships and now and then off to an Ivy League school. I would be very honored for you to share the response with the class. One other thing you may care to know: In 1968 I was one of 600 chosen nation wide for full scholarship for college and then to officer candidate school by the US Army. I watched those jets napalming those villages on TV each night and felt God did not put the United States of America here to drop fire on already starving people on the other side of the world. I declined the scholarship.

      • Zahara says:

        Carl, I am honored to have you reading my blog.

  2. omawarisan says:

    Auugh, isn’t that the worst to know you made a mistake? I think if you run screaming back into the class and demand a retraction you should be able to fix it.

    Ivan sounds like a heck of a guy. You have to respect a guy that looks after his mom.

    • Zahara says:

      Oma, you are right again! I should have run “backwards and on fire” into the classroom! But my style is a little more shy and subtle. This afternoon, because my innards were still churning with angst at the thought of the test, I emailed my professor and explained myself. He wrote right back to say all was not lost, he gave me partial credit for the work I did, and that I still got an “A”, 46 out of 50 points. I am so stoked and relieved.
      And yes, Ivan is a sweet boy, in spite of me!

  3. Oh, what a post. I relate to the pain of statistics, the comfort from a son. I have a math degree and stats class was a terror for me. My professor had 4 questions on every test so if you missed one, you got a C. Who does this? And there were no partial points – you got a 25 or 0 on every question. Crazy people do this, that’s who.

    Good luck with your studies and know that I did okay in the end, but not stellar, and have been able to statistically make my way through life okay so far.

    • Zahara says:

      You’re comment cracked me up. “Crazy people do this”, indeed. My professor is rather sane in comparison to the nut job you had. Please refer to my response to omawarisan’s comment for some happy news.
      It is good to know that Statistics class is survivable.

  4. I’m so happy that you get an “A” in the end 🙂
    And aww, Ivan’s really nice, has he started learning Russian?

  5. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    I am always leary of my 13yr old hugging me. It usually means he is going for my wallet….. and is usually successful 🙂

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