Mastering a Challenge

Einstein was said to have had a learning problem called dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is sometimes called "math dyslexia". What it means is, modern mathematical numbers and equations don't translate into meaningful concepts. How could Einstein, a world-renowned physicist, possibly have dyscalculia and solve the equations that he did? Dyscalculia is something that more often than not co-occurs with extremely high IQ, even an immeasurable IQ. It is not a "learning disability" per se; it's more of a specific atypical learning style that can cause some serious problems in standard educational environments and testing environments. No matter what modern diagnosticians try to publish, dyscalculia does not affect logic and reasoning or articulation through the written word. What is most often affected is the ability to verbally articulate concepts that require numbers: an inability to "show your work" (i.e., explain your thought process), which begins with an inability to "count out loud" from an early age. People with dyscalculia are more likely to be abstract/analytical thinkers and learners, the most difficult learning style to comprehend and almost impossible to teach to people with other learning styles.
When I was young (in the late-60's/early-70's), I was identified as being in MENSA's highest range of aptitude, technically immeasurable, and also given a disparaging label, like Einstein ("idiot savant"). It was determined that I had dyscalculia, something I can share with Einstein, Mary Tyler Moore and Cher, three of my favorite people. Although I was already an accomplished musician and had no difficulty reading music and understanding time signatures, yet, the simplest mathematically equations and concepts (division, "prime" numbers, multiplication) baffled me. Word problems were absolutely out of the question, yet, when showed a quadratic equation for the first time, I translated and solved it on my own. I kept getting placed into advanced mathematics and within one week, kept having to withdraw. teachers and school psychologists could not understand it until finally, the diagnosis "dyscalculia" came along and at that point, I was allowed to continue schooling without math classes because there simply was no point in asking me to take them. I would never "do math", I was told, never be a scientist. I lasted to ninth grade, like Einstein. I had to take my high school degree through correspondence, and graduated with an A average.
I went into college, finally, for linguistics. My very last year in undergraduate courses, I had to pass college algebra with a minimum grade of 'B' or I would not be allowed to graduate. I had to take two years of math prior to college algebra, including pre-algebra, introduction to college math, an audited course for college algebra, and two preparation courses for algebra I and II. These classes I passed with A's, because I had a boyfriend who took the problem so seriously that he sat with me every night for one hour for over a year, drilling the steps into my head. I got 'A's in all my preparatory classes but, despite that, when I took the actual course, within a week it became obvious that I would not be able to understand the concepts whatsoever, as if I had never seen a math equation before and had never taken math before. I went into shock and I panicked. My college algebra professor was a retired football coach and he stepped in to intervene after I brought the problem to his attention. He said he'd seen this kind of thing before in audio-kinesthetic learners, but I was an abstract/analytical learner. He called a specialist, a retired colleague who had done research in dyscalculia. His colleague gave me a test to determine whether I could generate numbers that represented mathematical concepts and algebraic concepts. Sure enough, I aced that. I could create algebraic equations that expressed concepts of time, distance, dimension and rate without trouble but I could not internalize and process the terms or the steps required for college algebra. This colleague called it "the savant syndrome" (which, at any rate, was kinder than calling it the "idiot syndrome").
And so, my math professor worked with me three times a week outside of class and gave me specialized tests, proving to the math department that I could work with mathematical concepts but in my own atypical way, not the standard way which, to me, was backwards. By allowing me to explore concepts mathematically, he enabled me to be able to generate my own theorems and equations and eventually, to go on to receive a doctorate in linguistics and develop a super-matrix theorem for consciousness. He told me then that anybody else would have quit a long time ago. He said he didn't understand the syndrome, himself, but he knew one thing: as long as you don't quit, you will succeed. The only way a person fails is if they give up. I applied that wisdom from "Coach" Brown throughout the rest of my career and life, and his equation proves true: quit = fail; not quitting = success over time. The end product of my perseverance was the formula described below, in my best "math=ese":
Definition of terms
quit (Q), fail (F), success (S), time (t)
Identity of variables
1 = yes, 0 = no
With the given identities, it can be stated that if Q = 1, then Q = F;therefore, if Q equals 0, then Q = S/t
This is the only formula that matters in life, or in math.


Lorri C.

Doctorate-level expertise in multiple disciplines

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