# Remedial Maths for Grownups

April 30, 2016 8:55 AM Subscribe

What are good (and preferably free) resources for self-teaching high school level mathematics? Snowflakes etc. below the fold.

I have a complicated relationship with maths. As a young critter I was good with numbers, and until the end of 8th grade was near the top of my class, could complete most tasks asked of me in my head, and made it a hobby to find errors in the answer sections of textbooks.

When I hit 9th grade I had a clumsily managed transition skipping up into a 10th grade "accelerated" math class. I wasn't given bridging work, my teacher had no interest in helping me catch up on concepts I was unfamiliar with (and seemed to take an active dislike to me but that's another story), and being 14 I didn't have the wits to research my way out of the problem. I crashed and burned, and was made to repeat 10th grade maths the following year in the lowest skilled group ("veggie maths" we call it cruelly and colloquially here in Australia). Again, being 14 and not that emotionally developed, I got the impression my former facility with numbers was an illusion, I was dumb, and promptly gave up on STEM in general and went all-out on the arts.

FFWD to today, I'm moderately successful as a musician/artist/teacher/academic support tutor, and have proved to myself the dumbness thing was incorrect (yay self-esteem!), however I greatly regret, and have a bunch of insecurity around my loss of mathematics, and 20-ish years later I want it back goddammit.

Please help the ghost of 14 year old math-nerd me get back on the horse.

(If it's relevant my last experience of mathematics education was in the mid 1990s public high school system of Victoria, Australia)

I have a complicated relationship with maths. As a young critter I was good with numbers, and until the end of 8th grade was near the top of my class, could complete most tasks asked of me in my head, and made it a hobby to find errors in the answer sections of textbooks.

When I hit 9th grade I had a clumsily managed transition skipping up into a 10th grade "accelerated" math class. I wasn't given bridging work, my teacher had no interest in helping me catch up on concepts I was unfamiliar with (and seemed to take an active dislike to me but that's another story), and being 14 I didn't have the wits to research my way out of the problem. I crashed and burned, and was made to repeat 10th grade maths the following year in the lowest skilled group ("veggie maths" we call it cruelly and colloquially here in Australia). Again, being 14 and not that emotionally developed, I got the impression my former facility with numbers was an illusion, I was dumb, and promptly gave up on STEM in general and went all-out on the arts.

FFWD to today, I'm moderately successful as a musician/artist/teacher/academic support tutor, and have proved to myself the dumbness thing was incorrect (yay self-esteem!), however I greatly regret, and have a bunch of insecurity around my loss of mathematics, and 20-ish years later I want it back goddammit.

Please help the ghost of 14 year old math-nerd me get back on the horse.

(If it's relevant my last experience of mathematics education was in the mid 1990s public high school system of Victoria, Australia)

where are you? in scotland (edinburgh) i used to help people at a local drop-in clinic run by the local govt.

posted by andrewcooke at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2016

posted by andrewcooke at 9:06 AM on April 30, 2016

People seem to be quite into Khan Academy's self-paced online courses. They have Kindergarten-level through some typical undergraduate math subjects.

You might also find the Desmos graphic calculator fun to play with.

posted by waninggibbon at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

You might also find the Desmos graphic calculator fun to play with.

posted by waninggibbon at 9:09 AM on April 30, 2016 [5 favorites]

Khan Academy.

Breaks it up by grade level and specific types of math. Each math topic is broken up into specific lessons that will walk you through step by step.

posted by Karaage at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Breaks it up by grade level and specific types of math. Each math topic is broken up into specific lessons that will walk you through step by step.

posted by Karaage at 9:11 AM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Definitely Khan Academy. Also, if you need more algebra to start with, Purple Math is useful. (I'm back in school after 20 years and have recently taken up through Calculus III and I

posted by Beti at 9:19 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

**still**hit Purple Math periodically for some minor things I can never remember - do I add the exponents or multiply them?)posted by Beti at 9:19 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Kahn and Purple. Both great!! Should be all you need. I admire you for doing this......Math makes me run screaming into the wilds!!

posted by pearlybob at 9:38 AM on April 30, 2016

posted by pearlybob at 9:38 AM on April 30, 2016

I like to recommend Aleks. $20/month, I think (maybe less) and it will give you an assessment to find out what you know, and then gives you exercises to work on, with teaching material to help you understand the various problems.

It's important to have someone/thing else check your work, because of course you think you're doing it right, or else you'd've done it differently!

It can teach everything from 4th grade arithmetic on up through precalculus and trigonometry. (I don't know how much geometry it's got, though: if you want geometry resources send me a MeMail.)

posted by leahwrenn at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2016

It's important to have someone/thing else check your work, because of course you think you're doing it right, or else you'd've done it differently!

It can teach everything from 4th grade arithmetic on up through precalculus and trigonometry. (I don't know how much geometry it's got, though: if you want geometry resources send me a MeMail.)

posted by leahwrenn at 9:47 AM on April 30, 2016

Harold Jacobs has written very user-friendly texts on Algebra and Geometry. The books are creative in their approach and are popular with unschoolers. I am not sure whether you can find cheap used copies in Australia.

posted by puddledork at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2016

posted by puddledork at 10:03 AM on April 30, 2016

The Wayback Machine still has this list of math resources I published when I used to blog about homeschooling. Many of the books were bought for $1 off of clearance racks. You could also try going to the library.

My oldest was math phobic when I pulled him out of school. I am mathy. The page talks some about what worked for him and why we approached it that way. My primary goal was to teach him "math is your friend" and get him over his phobia more than anything. He still is not good at crunching the numbers -- this gets called "calculator dependent" in some circles -- but he absolutely learned a lot more math than the average person understands.

posted by Michele in California at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

My oldest was math phobic when I pulled him out of school. I am mathy. The page talks some about what worked for him and why we approached it that way. My primary goal was to teach him "math is your friend" and get him over his phobia more than anything. He still is not good at crunching the numbers -- this gets called "calculator dependent" in some circles -- but he absolutely learned a lot more math than the average person understands.

posted by Michele in California at 10:33 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I remember Paul's Online Math Notes were pretty good!

posted by gemutlichkeit at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by gemutlichkeit at 11:39 AM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I imagine it's better to find something cool online, but a few years back when I'd been out of school for ten years and needed to refresh myself before plunging headfirst into calculus, I just got a used pre-calculus textbook off of half.com and went through problem sets from each chapter.

posted by hought20 at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

posted by hought20 at 12:12 PM on April 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

My children went through a couple of books called Algebra the Easy Way and Calculus the Easy Way, but they were both good math students who had not gotten the HS yet. But the books might help. There may also be volumes for the lower level topics.

posted by SemiSalt at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2016

posted by SemiSalt at 1:22 PM on April 30, 2016

Fellow Aussie here, who had a son in Year 8 who had lost the plot re: maths. It turned out that he'd missed some basic concepts in primary school, and was bewildered by the stuff he needed to understand once he hit high school.

His lovely teacher suggested Excel workbooks for homework to help him catch up. I bought a couple online (Years 7 & 8) and they worked wonders. He caught up pretty quickly, and even continued to use the workbooks because he'd realised that maths can be fun.

This is the current Year 9 version. You might be able to find less expensive or second-hand ones by browsing online.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:50 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

His lovely teacher suggested Excel workbooks for homework to help him catch up. I bought a couple online (Years 7 & 8) and they worked wonders. He caught up pretty quickly, and even continued to use the workbooks because he'd realised that maths can be fun.

This is the current Year 9 version. You might be able to find less expensive or second-hand ones by browsing online.

posted by malibustacey9999 at 9:50 PM on April 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Can be a bit hard to navigate (and a bit naff) but Skillswise is great

posted by litleozy at 2:47 PM on May 3, 2016

posted by litleozy at 2:47 PM on May 3, 2016

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posted by coberh at 9:03 AM on April 30, 2016