The Jessica Journals:

January 05, 2005: Then I See a Darkness

As anyone who has read my journal entries for any length of time is no doubt aware, I place a high premium on education. After all, it was I who not only told you that Spider-Man 2 was a piece of half-digested haggis, I also explained why. And I did not merely mourn the passing of the great and talented band known as Creed; I explained why you also needed to mourn its demise. And, when your understanding of what metrosexuality entailed appeared to be lacking who pulled back the curtain surrounding the world of David Beckham and Ryan Seacrest? Cíest moi!

It should, therefore, come as no surprise that I am heading back to college so that I might increase my knowledge and, thereby, open a path to increasing yours. Yes, the hallowed halls of academia have too long been denied my presence, but no more! For in two short weeks I shall begin taking courses at the highly esteemed University of Wisconsin Fox Valley.

As a requirement to register for classes, a new student must take two placement tests, one for math and one for english, so that the screwl can assess a studentís proficiency or lack thereof in both of those disciplines. So, at twelve noon on January the 4th in the Year of Our Lord two thousand five I entered the University of Wisconsin Fox Valley student services building through the main doors (right next to the planetarium) and, in room 1229, spent the next 3 hours taking the above mentioned tests.

Although I havenít receive the results of the tests yet, I think it safe to say that I did quite well on the ingalesh test. But, then again, how could I not? I have used the English language every day since I was a wee tot. The math test, on the other hand, was another matter entirely....

It started out with a relatively straightforward algebra equation but quickly moved on to questions of the (X≤+2X≥)(4Y≤-3XY≥)=7(X≥+2Y≤)(XY≥+2Y≤) variety. From there it was all downhill, moving from square roots of odd numbers to the eleventh power, to the area of half a sphere, to some things called ďsinesĒ and ďcosinesĒ. Eventually, I turned the page only to be confronted with...

This was the moment my brain achieved total shut down

...and discovered that I was actually taking the Japanese foreign language placement test.

No, I'm not going to bother proving geometrically that this equation is true

I venture to say that my score on the math test will be inversely proportionate to what I scored on the english test...which only goes to show how useless upper level math skills are to people who arenít engineers, chemists, or mathematicians.

Oh, simple math skills are essential. A person, after all, needs to know how to add up purchases, figure out how much to tip the waitress, and so on. Personally, I need to add, subtract, multiply, and divide on a regular basis, but even then the most complicated problem Iíve ever faced is what 1/3 off $19.99 is. Even then I could have just whipped out a calculator to arrive at $13.33; although the fact that I could do all the home accent markdowns in my head greatly impressed my boss.

I think it bears noting that, in the five and a half years since I graduated high school, I have never needed to know that half of pi squared multiplied by the square root of 84 is THX+1138. This begs the question: why do colleges demand that students learn skills they will never need and will forget the moment Finals are over? I would fault them with stupidity, but they probably did the math and figured out that they could make a whole boatload of money by increasing the number of useless core classes students are required to take.


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Copyright 2005 Jessica Menn