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Calculus: Is it Really That Hard?

It's been awhile since I have been in school, but I have found out in recent years that maybe I would have had a better career if I was not so afraid of the math when I was younger. I had special education when I was a tween and not much math. I later had algebra at the public high school but I decided against a lot of careers and better college because I kept on hearing that this math called calculus is SO HARD! Even my sister, now a dentist, says it was difficult (and yes, she did need it to get into dental school). Worse yet, a psychiatrist I saw as a teen told me that it was "very abstract and no way you would understand it" and was I supposed to believe it? Nobody ever said what this math was, only it is SO HARD! I even chose a college that turned out to be awful because it did not require this math class and I could have gone to much better schools if I only had Calculus.

Later, I would try to study math like college algebra myself from books but I found that it is very difficult to go to even study after work when one is on the spectrum. I feel so exhausted from work I cannot even open a book. I hear that NT people work full time and go to school full time and now, I wonder if they are lying.

So all of you who are on the spectrum and good at advanced math, what is the truth? When you took the class, was it really that bad? Did you get a decent grade? Was I misinformed? It turns out that our high school, few people go to college even today so would I have heard this at a better school? Looking forward to the answers.

I think you have to agree it's oh so hard if you want to fit in and not be widely hated. Clueless as I am about social mechanisms like this that we have in place to thwart one another's intellectual progress, I didn't listen and just studied it. I didn't know any better than to devote my attention to studying, rather than to looking for reasonable-sounding excuses to hold the subject matter in great contempt and conclude, having learned as little as possible of it, that it's a waste of time and that it obviously has the sole purpose for nerds to try to impress lay people with our smartassery, which, needless to say, means we should have been knocked off our high horses by being duly beaten up in time.

_________________

The red lake has been forgotten. A dust devil stuns you long enough to shroud forever those last shards of wisdom. The breeze rocking this forlorn wasteland whispers in your ears, “Não resta mais que uma sombra”.

Meistersinger

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Joined: 10 May 2012

Gender: Male

Posts: 3,700

Location: Beautiful(?) West Manchester Township PA

Calculus is thankfully the more easier section in mathematics. It is essentially the study of change and the rates of change. Using Calculus we can calculate things like the maximum area a strip of wire can form, as well as how long it take for a cup to be filled with liquid, assuming of course we know the rate of change that the water is being flow.

Calculus can also enable us to find area under curves by way of the knowledge that a derivative is in fact the rate of change of a function that illustrates a graph. Thus anti-differentiation is a powerful tool that enables for instance to calculate the distance a particle has traveled if we know it's rate of change.

Multi variable Calculus is another discipline that utilizes partial derivatives. It allows implicit functions to be differentiated while the other variable is treated as constant. It can be used for finding the area of more advanced 3d shape and the illustration of more complex functions.

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Sebastian

"Don't forget to floss." - Darkwing Duck

Well, the problem there is I thought these people like my sister and others in school were telling the truth because I wanted to know what I was getting into. I didn't know I was supposed to think it was so hard in order to "fit in".

Funny story, I remember once I asked this question to my dentist while he had instruments in my mouth and he went on about "Oh, it made me so angry, we were supposed to use our imagination and imagine a solid and then revolve it, and oh, I had a hard time figuring it out" and yes, your dentist will know it, it's needed for dental school

Sweetleaf

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Joined: 6 Jan 2011

Age: 31

Gender: Female

Posts: 32,366

Location: Somewhere in Colorado

It is really that hard for me, considering I can't even pass college remedial math with a tutor...I don't think I'd even make it to college algebra let alone calculus. Right now I am on disability because a PTSD causing incident combined with everything else....but I've been becoming more stable so probably have to find work when I can function well enough most likely crappy menial labor of some sort unless I can get in the marijuana industry, then I'd still probably be doing plant trimming or something else unimpressive like that.

I probably should not be the person to deal with customers and or figuring out financial stuff. Also whilst I can operate a cash register(it's kind of like a calculator so sort of does math for you), I can't do it quick and under pressure I get even slower and can mix up what I am doing and create lots of impatient customers.

So IDK labor that doesn't require college is always an option, but lots of people who go to college end up not getting a career out of it anyways and get a crap job with college loans on top of it.

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Fascism is a disease.

When I was at school in the UK in the 1970s, we studied calculus for 'O' Level Maths (an exam I took aged 14). Interestingly, I think it's now only studied on the 'A' level syllabus, an exam people sit at age 18.

Anyhow, I acquired a good grasp of calculus (dy/dx, etc) and secured a top grade at 'O' Level. The interesting thing is that I tried to apply some of this stuff less than 12 months later, and found I could hardly remember any of it, certainly not enough to solve the basic problems I was confronted with. That was the first time I questioned the value and purpose of our education system, and I've done so many times since....

goatfish57

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Location: In a village in La Mancha whose name I cannot recall

I enjoyed calculus in college. The high school level courses were boring. Once you get past the basics it can be fun. But, it does take work to understand. Harder for some than others.

Calculus is a building block for most advanced mathematics.

_________________

Rdos: ND 133/200, NT 75/200

Not Diagnosed, but have personality traits that are consistent with being neurodiverse. Confirmation bias may be an issue.

I find that I can still use math I learned over 30 years ago!

The challenge of being an Aspie is finding out what is hard and what just takes more time to learn. Sometimes you can't learn something because your teacher thinks in a different manner than you do or doesn't have enough patience. These days you can get around that by finding other teaching sources on the Internet.

I wouldn't pay attention if people are telling you that its 'hard'. You should try it and decide for yourself whether or not it is hard.

I found the basics of calculus quite easy. Certainly no harder than any other subject such as trigonometry, statistics, algebra etc.

But eventually it got a bit too hard... And so did everything else.

DeepHour: We didn't do calculus as part of our GCSEs. I first did it at college as part of an engineering National Certificate and later as part of an HND. It will almost certainly be on the A Levels though.

Approach it with a open mind and give calculus a fair chance before deciding on whether it is too hard (or not) for you to learn. Many people do not give certain subjects a good rating due to their experiences with them, regardless if they were fair about it or not. They then tell others how hard the subject matter is and it becomes a self defeating prophecy. I see this all the time when I teach chemistry classes. Students start off thinking that the material will be too difficult for them based off of what others have told them. My perspective is to tell yourself that you can learn it if you work hard enough at it. You may stumble along the way, so it is ok to ask for help when you need it.

Is it not really hard. I find it extremely fascinating. It fills in the gap made by all the mathematics done in school (traditionally) before that. In the standard algebra and geometry course one usually is taught how to compute the area, perimeter, surface area etc. of simple shapes such as circles, spheres, cubes etc., while in calculus you deal with much more complicated shapes, which is better in a way because perfect spheres don't often appear in the real world.

You can also calculate instantaneous rates of change, cannot be obtained by pre-calculus methods.

The only problem with calculus is that one is taught theorems and methods to solve certain problems but calculus courses typically lack mathematical rigor. In calculus you will probably learn that a continous means you can draw it on a piece of paper without every having to take your hand off the piece of paper, which lacks mathematical rigor. In some more enhanced calculus courses they will the epsilon-delta definition of a limit and continuity, but usually not why that is. Calculus is often a plug n' chug sort of maths.

If you feel calculus didn't quite go deep enough, I recommend real analysis. It discusses the underlying theory of calculus and it shows you how some of the brightest mathematical mind came to certain conclusions often left unproven in standard calculus courses.

_________________

"God may not play dice with the universe, but something strange is going on with prime numbers."

-Paul Erdos

"There are two types of cryptography in this world: cryptography that will stop your kid sister from looking at your files, and cryptography that will stop major governments from reading your files."

-Bruce Schneider

If you're actually twelve, I really envy you. I wish I'd had a chance to learn so many things so young. It'd probably have made many peers despise and bully me even more, but they did it enough already so the difference would have been hardly noticeable

_________________

The red lake has been forgotten. A dust devil stuns you long enough to shroud forever those last shards of wisdom. The breeze rocking this forlorn wasteland whispers in your ears, “Não resta mais que uma sombra”.

When I didn't audit university math lectures and just self-taught myself maths outside and during lunch break (I found the cafeteria too loud so I sat in a small workspace) I find that the bullying was worse then. Now that people know that I audit university math lectures the bullying revolving around my maths ability has slowed down. Now they tend to make fun of me because of my social awkwardness rather than my maths ability. Some people may argue it's virtually impossible to do what I do (at such a young age) without having an autism spectrum disorder.

_________________

"God may not play dice with the universe, but something strange is going on with prime numbers."

-Paul Erdos

"There are two types of cryptography in this world: cryptography that will stop your kid sister from looking at your files, and cryptography that will stop major governments from reading your files."

-Bruce Schneider

Its only hard if you don't grasp algebra, math is a cumulative and is kinda like levelling up in an RPG game. You can't be level 20 without having understood level 19. If you don't understand any prior level of mathematics before it, it will probably seem harder than it is. Also math difficulty is overrated, I myself am not that good at it but it boils down to time. Math my require more time to study and as such is labelled a harder subject cause people or college students don't want to do the work and would rather be smoking pot with friends. Not trying to stereotype college kids, but thats what me and everyone I knew was thinking in college.

Most of calculus is simple as long as you do your homework. Calculus has lots of rules to exploit or be aware of just like algebra. I spent more time with algebra and trig identities than deriving or integrating. Before I started college math, I spent roughly 2 years of free time on Khan Academy learning what I could.

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I'm a math evangelist, I believe in theorems and ignore the proofs.

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