Calculus is an instrument of cruel and unusual punishment created by those who derive immense pleasure from the agony of high school students.
Like most of mathematics, it is strict, precise, and insufferable. Blood, sweat, and tears were shed by the millions before you who have trodden the same beat-up path that now beckons before you. By merit of natural selection, only the fittest will survive.
But don’t worry, the future isn’t all too bleak: by the end of this class, you will have developed a swelling appreciation for the intricacies of the great outdoors.
Calculus isn't that painful. In fact, it was the first class where math made sense to me. No longer will you be burdened by tedious formulas or meaningless variables. Instead, to learn calculus is to understand a few basic concepts forwards, backwards, and upside-down until you are able to apply your understanding of key ideas to any problem. In short:
Understanding > Rote Memorization
Like variations on a theme in music, calculus revolves around a few key concepts that are articulated in different ways: derivatives are inversion of integrals, second derivatives are simply the derivative taken twice, etc.
As long as you do (do, not B.S.) your homework and understand the concepts, you'll do great—even if you are left-brained, mathematically challenged, or numerically illiterate. Just look at me.
Ke Zhao is a senior at Amador Valley High School. Mathematics, a subject that never came easily, was made several degrees more understandable when she took Advanced Placement Calculus AB with Mrs. James last year.
Though she has conquered Calculus AB, Ke faces a new challenge this school year: Calculus BC.