I stare at the elaborate rubric for the history essay due next week. My mind already trudging through the tedious research and annoyingly overthought writing process needed to complete the assignment. The topic was relatively easy: a simply argumentative essay on Uganda and what could be done to improve democracy. Yet, every milestone for the topic I treated as a marathon, and every small detail that I had yet to complete seemed like a 30-foot high brick wall that I needed to overcome. I absolutely hated it.

But. Why?

Why was it that I voluntarily will take on research projects and scientific essays on mythology, but am revolted by political/historical writing assignments? Why is it that the quality of work differs so greatly topic to topic? The answer is simply motivation.

I seem to have an inordinately narrow field of motivation, and that tends to restrict my ability to work well outside of that narrow field. I may excel and enjoy writing on certain topics, yet when I am constrained to a topic that lacks interest, I loose all motivation and joy for writing, both of which are reflected in the product.

Due to this, I have made it my personal goal to expand my motivation and interests–to learn new ways to draw joy out of the driest and uninteresting assignments possible. So, when my class and I received an assignment in which we were exploring the properties of functions, I attempted to view the positives. I dislike math. It is a fact that I have learned, accepted, and begrudgingly live with. So, while my subconscious screamed at me repeating my aversion to the subject, I was thinking of an aspect of the project that I may find interest in.

The original prompt was to symbolize a desired change in yourself through art using functions on a coordinate plane. The change was easy- I wanted more interests and motivations. And the format of the assignment was also easy for me to manage–as much as I dislike math, I adore art in every way possible.

So the drafting process began.

At first, I was thinking of everything as functions: what would be easier than a star made out of cleverly placed linear lines? But, I soon came to the realization that this would be representing me: whatever the end product was would be a direct reflection of who I am and what I stand for. And with that thought came a spur of motivation that I had never felt prior to that moment. My hand frantically moved across the marked up paper, smearing graphite on my palms, breaking the lead on my mechanical pencil more times than I could count. I drafted for what seemed like a moment but felt like forever. And then I was finished. What appeared in front of me was not a grouping of functions, but drafts and sketches that could have easily gone on to be full-fledged pieces.

Now, artistically they were most definitely not my best work. Yet, I had the ability to turn a feeling of dread to excitement, and on a math assignment? That’s unheard of!

Flash forward to this morning, where I completed the milestone objective of 100 equations on the digital rendition of the sketch on the top left.

The original design featuring a tree has been replaced with more abstract curves and uniform twists and colors. And while I have reached 100 equations, I still have much more work to do as I continue to branch out the rainbow-like curves and circles.

Looking back at the beginning of the project I could in no way see an outcome as visually appealing as the one I have achieved. While it most definitely has its flaws, I am relatively proud of how far my math and motivation has taken me. I can now look at the image and label every function on the plane and the properties of each of those functions. Each rainbow-like curve is actually comprised of a circle, with a radius ranging from 10-20. Since each circle is in its transformational form–(x-h)^2 + (y-k)^2– I am able to manipulate the values of h and k to change the function’s location on the plane, and also able to change the value of r to determine the size of the circle. Yet, to achieve the semi-circle appearance I needed to put domain and range restrictions on each circle. This usually comes in the form of {__ > x} or {___ > y} where the inequality sign and the number attached to it determines how visible the function is. For example, if the restriction was {2<x}, then the domain of the restricted function would only be visible from x onward (given that the inequality states that x is larger than 2).

Reblogged this on GHS Innovation Lab.

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Reblogged this on GHS Innovation Lab and commented:

Jody discusses motivation, math, and milestones.

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