Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lessons learned

When they talk about theory in math, look out! They don't mean theory the way I've always thought about it, or at least the way I've thought about it lately, in terms of theories of education or communication expressed in words with specific epistemological, ontological, and axiological perspectives. They mean formulas and proofs of formulas that prove not only the practical, realistically possible situations but all situations no matter how highly improbable.

Now I suppose you could argue that these two things are fairly similar. Theory in the social sciences are described with words, sometimes highly specialized terms and this is not all that different from theory expressed with numbers and symbols that are also a highly specialized language of sorts.

You could argue that and you'd be right but there is a world of difference in the preparation one needs in order to understand mathematical theory and theory in the social sciences so perhaps I won't appear too naive when I tell you that I didn't REALLY understand the difference until this week.

My degree at TWU requires me to not only complete the core library science courses but also several courses in a cognate area. I chose statistics as my cognate and included in my degree plan a course called Theory of Statistics in which I enrolled this semester. Sadly, and much to my disappointment, I have learned quickly that I am no where nearly prepared to succeed in this class.

And it hasn't been pretty. I started tripping over calculus and trigonometry after about the second class and it went down hill from there, which is disappointing because I was really enjoying learning about statistics from another perspective. However, I've come to my senses, realized that I don't have the mathematical background to understand the theory that underlies the statistical manipulations that programs like SPSS and SAS do for us social scientists, and dropped the class.

Maybe I can be a mathematician or a rocket scientist in my next life!

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I am... a wife a daughter a sister/sister-in-law an aunt a reader a librarian a doctor a quilter a niece a grandmother ;-) a cat owner 6 feet 1 inches tall a yoga enthusiast a cook