Gilland: Pride goes before destruction

Student taking test

With all the excitement of being a new college student, there was one class on my freshman list of courses that was a head scratcher for me.

I entered the university as an education major, with the goal of becoming an elementary math teacher. During all my years of elementary and high school classes, math had not only been my favorite subject, it had come the easiest to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, it is not like I didn’t have to work at some aspects, like grasping algebra in the very beginning. But even in those more difficult sciences, it quickly seemed to make sense, and I soon loved that class, be it algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or analytical geometry.

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I didn’t realize just how offended I was to get my class schedule and realize that, in my very first freshman semester in college, I was forced to take a required class called “Math 101.” My pride blinded me, as all I was able to conceive was that this class was way beneath my academic experience. This must be one of those “snoozer” college classes that I had heard about.

Although I never came out and articulated my intentions, I functionally adapted the mindset that I would endure this required class—but I would show them, and not even crack open the book for our first assignment. That proved to be a really bad move on my part.

The very next class, without a single guilty feeling in my heart that I had completely dissed the assignment, I was a bit surprised to hear that we were already facing a “pop quiz.” I had no idea.

When I looked over the questions on that quiz, I was shocked and quickly repentant of my cockiness. Truth be told, I didn’t understand a single question or problem. Worse yet, this page talked about concepts that were completely foreign to me. I muddled my way through, knowing I was in a heap of trouble.

Sure enough, when the very prim and proper professor walked through the classes passing out test papers, she stopped at my desk, plopped down my big red “F,” and said quietly, “Looks like someone didn’t think they needed to study.”

Then she smiled, and encouraged me to not be so sure of myself and dig in to this “New Math.” This was a much-needed lesson, and that professor was very patient with me. She basically threw out that first grade and let me catch up on what my arrogance had dismissed.

There is a verse in the Bible that became very real after this incident:  

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Proverbs 16:18

That expression of my haughtiness could have wrecked my first-ever college class, but God was merciful to me, and instead it became a practical life lesson that I’ve never forgotten.

May we all remember that our past experience and successes are not guarantees to future ease. We need to be vigilant with each new day.

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Been there myself, tho’ not with ‘New’ math. I still have hope that some elements of traditional math will return, like multiplying something results in an increase.

For instance when people remark that something is 7 times smaller than something else when they actually mean it is 1/7 or even 70%. Multiplying something by a whole number used to result in the concept of the something being larger, but then using the word ‘smaller’ to modify the multiplier is somehow magically altering the first result. YIKES! But, sadly, this usage is pervasive today.

Some languages are allowed to be flexible because of ignorance but would those people feel the same if that logic were applied to their paycheck? Math isn’t one of the languages that should be tossed around without understanding the meaning.