The oldest student in Algebra 2

anita 2017
January 19, 2017 - 12:14 am in Broward People News

“My Algebra 2 class circa 1967 was at Southfield High, a few miles north of Detroit. To this day I have no idea what was going on in Algebra 2, a class I could always count to make me feel stupid. My only natural gift in there was really good eyesight and the luck of sitting diagonal from the class brain. At my 20 year class reunion, I thanked Grasshopper for getting me through Algebra 2. I simply copied most of what he did and I got a B.

Today I lived Algebra 2 again, still not having a clue what Mr. Horace Buddoo at West Broward High School was talking about..something about finding the inverses of functions and the composition of functions. A function within a function. There was an x and y and f and g and some numbers. Kids are praised for coming up the dry erase board and solving algebra problems. That alone would make me feel connected along with use of a snazzy new iPad that was all mine during this class.  Everyone has a partner to work on problems with so Algebra 2 is also a teamwork thing. Seats even get moved around so that there are no gaps. Everyone is included. Count me in.

Maybe Mr Buddoo  would have understood a kid like me who doesn’t easily grasp these concepts much less the reason to even learn them.
His class starts with a six minute mindfulness exercise to encourage calmness and relaxation. The lights dim. You close your eyes. You hear zen meditation music.You breathe in confidence, you breathe out doubt. Every challenge should start this way.
Mindfulness would have really helped my crazy-ass 11th grade self. I would have focused on learning Algebra 2 instead of thinking about my frizzy hair, or if the dress I was wearing made me look fat or about the cute guy sitting two rows in front of me. Would that guy have liked me even if he knew how lost I was in Algebra 2?
Had I known that learning Algebra 2 would teach me how to be logical, how to think better, I would have had a reason to learn it

Today  i am too embarrassed to ask Mr Buddoo to explain inversions. I have clearly fallen off the bus.
My mind wanders to the inspiration posters in here. “The journey is the prize.” Now you are in my arena, Mr. Buddoo, succinct words that simplify giant ideas.
‘Imagine yourself positive and happy,’ is part of the meditation. What a concept, even now.

I learned today that every x and y has a y and x partner. Huh? I am so sorry, Mr Buddoo, the bus has left me in a ditch.
Kids applaud when someone gets something right. Then they applaud when the class is over for doing a good job.
All these years later, I see the value of Algebra 2. It would have taught me to be a better thinker.
Algebra 2 is about real life. Algebra 2 is problem solving and organization and being logical.

I get it now. Finally.”


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  • January 24, 2017

    Wow, meditation at the beginning of a challenge, what a concept. I can imagine that it could have made all of the different for me as well. I think most of the subjects and all of the monotonous homework was meant to make us better thinkers. If they only took the time to explain it that way.

    Tammy Wekerle
  • January 24, 2017

    Loved this piece as it brought back memories of initial struggles with math and then an awakening – which happen unpredictably.

  • January 24, 2017

    I appreciated the nostalgia and your return to an algebra class-modern day! I remember trying to solve for x back in 1977 with Ms. Dorn at Ashley Hall school in Charleston. I would have welcomed today’s team approach not to mention starting the day with mindfulness-a practice I use today. Thx Anita

    Annie Thomas