Inspiration & new learning

Ideology – the place where theory and morality meet – is, at its best, a dynamic rational tool, vital to the task of building knowledge. It is when our personal ideologies are taken for granted, or left unexamined, that they lapse into dogma, and it is therefore important that this is not allowed to happen.

From “How scientific is political science?”. David Wearing, the Guardian UK.

Life was entirely busy these last few months with GRE preparation, especially for the quantitative portion of the exam. I’ve been one of those all-too-common cases of someone who just never “got” math – a reality that I found discouraging, particularly when other academic pursuits were so integral to my sense of self. Faced with the GRE and knowing that math skills would be essential for my future goals, the time finally came to buckle down… and I did!

Learning math meant going back, way back, and revisiting every small concept that I’d failed to absorb since grade three. (Do I need to add that there were a lot of them?) I’d dearly love to see younger Heather, feeling stupid, miserably hunched over in the back of high school functions class, and tell her she didn’t have to spend the rest of her life fearing numbers – despite what guidance counsellors, math teachers and child psychologists all seemed intent on convincing her. (And what I defeatedly told myself, too). I’ve been lucky to have the total support of my partner and parents, who all helped me in a myriad patient ways over the past few months. While I’ll never be a math genius, I can genuinely say that I’m looking forward to calculus.

Math and statistics are so important and I’d hate to never become reasonably fluent. So this has been a pretty serious and far-reaching endeavour, which is far from over. I’m starting a pre-calculus course in January and will continue working all the time to get up to speed.

Yet with all that being said, my original motivation in writing today was the brief article quoted at the beginning of this post, and the happy fire-in-my-brain that it inspired. Math has been great… but I’m so excited to turn a bit more of my attention back on political science, epistemology and environmental issues! Phew.

Thanks Kaplan!