Don't just live in the world

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

November 3rd, 2014 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Work


When I did my three year degree there was one class that I specifically didn’t take, though I knew it was a requirement for the four year degree. In the three year program I had the choice between taking this class, Research Methods, or Political Philosophy. I took Political Philosophy, which is very heavy stuff, but basically literature, which I know I can do.

Research Methods.

Years ago I considered myself good at math. Algebra. I loved algebra. Then they introduced trigonometry and geometry and there were all these formulas and everything was confused. I cannot graph things.

Research Methods is statistics, broadly. It’s how to do research and studies used to do research and come to conclusions and a lot of that is about data.

So these two semesters, as I finish my honours year, the one class that I absolutely had to take to fulfill my requirements was Research Methods. It’s a second year class, so it shouldn’t be intimidating, given that I have taken and passed third and fourth year classes in the past, but this one is different.

Numbers. Damn am I intimidated.

At this point I have no idea if I’m struggling because I have been thinking about the fact that I didn’t take this class for so many years, if I’m over-thinking everything, or if the material is just too damn hard for my brain, so used to the soft sciences.

I am hovering above the topic. I know that when I get it, I will get it. But right now I don’t get it. I do, however, have a professor who wants me to get it, and I’m planning on taking advantage of that fact before the exam.

Sitting in this huge lecture hall before class starts, I called home to talk to my kid who I won’t get to see tonight – I’m on campus until 9 pm. She asked me what I think her favourite part of the day at school is, and while I was trying to think of what her class does on Mondays she went ahead and told me:

“It’s when I get answers wrong.”

“When you get answers wrong?”

“Yeah. Because then I’m learning.”

Damn kid is smarter than me.

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