Studying calculus at an advanced age


A friend of mine on Facebook mentioned Coursera recently. I respect his opinions, so I went to check it out.

It’s for real. It’s a website where you can find college-level courses offered for free. Really.

Okay. So I never took calculus in high school or college, and I saw that that Coursera was offering “Calculus 101.”

What could it hurt? It’s an online course. It must be very gentle, right?

Brother, was I wrong.

This is a complete thorough-going college-level course in calculus, with lectures, and homework, and quizzes, and a textbook (all free).

I’m barely through with the first week, and I’m already terrified.

I haven’t felt this way since high school.

Calculus turns out to be demanding and difficult, which is not good for my ossifying over-fifty brain.

Every evening I resolve to quit the course, and every evening I try again.

Now: can someone tell me: how do you multiply square roots? I’ve forgotten.

And I need to know by next Friday’s quiz.

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to Studying calculus at an advanced age

  1. Debbi McNiven says:

    What class were you ever afraid of in high school? Gym, maybe, but you knew more than most of the teachers in everything else.

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