Recent comments from a friend describing anxiety that seems to freeze his attempts to understand and use a new mathematical concept have caused me to recall and dig out this old poem -- and, by recalling it, to increase my understanding of my friend.
The Math Teacher's Golf Lesson by JoAnne Growney
My practice swing was perfect -- slow start, easy
acceleration through the ball to finish high.
"Beautiful," he said. "It's time to hit a few."
I addressed a ball and settled down and swung --
and missed. "Concentrate," he said. I squinted
and tried harder, hit the sod with a thud
behind the dimpled ball. "Step back," he said.
Again I executed my perfect practice swing.
When I stepped up to the ball, I missed again.
My teacher walked away to coach another
more promising than I. "You're afraid of the ball,"
he said. "Can't you help me not to be?" I pled.
My students tremble whenever "x" appears.
To help them, I remember -- I'm afraid of the ball.