Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mathematics and Me


I have just finished reading this interesting article and thought that many would find it relevant to their own lives. You might have grown up dealing with numbers and their complexities or have a student or child who struggles with Mathematics and its concepts.

I am one of those kids. Even though, I am a Special Needs teacher who supported, and still supports, students of all ages from the Primary level all the way up to Grade 12 (IGCSE as well as MYP and IB) in Mathematics, I also remember how I struggled with it when I was young. The only two topics that I cherished, because I understood, were Algebra and trigonometry... I seem to have had no problems with mixing letters and numbers together... but boy oh boy did I think I was thick and stupid for not understanding geometry. My parents tried everything from asking my math-wiz brother to assist me to hiring private tutors to do so. I tortured them all... I used to fake calculating the answer when I had the answers already from a different lesson or class and just copied the work onto the new notebook. I used to score higher on the difficult problems and make silly mistakes on the easy ones. My parents knew I was never going to be a Mathematician but it was a required course and I had to pass it no matter what. 

I passed my Mathematics Studies with a 4 out of a total of 7 points at the IB subsidiary level.  I kept thinking to myself; How in the world was I able to pull that off?  It must have been luck...Then every  student's worst nightmare hit me...well a student with my predicament.... Mathematically ineducable.... I had to take a Math course at university Sophomore level. When I say that it felt like a ton of bricks fell on me and buried me at that moment? I am not exaggerating... what? it followed me all the way here? This is a curse I tell ya! Anyway, luckily, my friend, Bless him, helped me through it all. I kept practicing problems and practicing problems with him until I was peeing numbers.

And it paid off... I passed with a B.... I failed my Mathematics IGCSE exam with a flying U... for Unclassified... and the IB with a mere 4.... and now I passed a University level Math exam with a B... an 85 to be exact... Oh the joy! Oh the relief!... I am not stupid after all!

There was a moment... it was then that I realized that I actually understand these concepts and there is no animosity between me and numbers... it is just that I needed time to develop... Time to mature... my development or ability to understand such concepts was underdeveloped and needed, practice, patience and determination in order to be able to grasp it.

I now support in Mathematics lesson... and actually taught a class for 4 years...did I mention that? So what I am trying to say here... and to all parents and students who have difficulties with numbers; understanding their relationships and how they dance together... is this...My parents and brother still cannot believe that I teach it but they are proud of me and so...

Parents: BELIEVE that one day... some day... your children will be able to figure it out... they need time, patience, things broken down for them, love and the will to support them no matter what... AND they WILL figure it out... do not pressure them! 

Students: BELIEVE that you are capable of understanding numbers... you must believe it to be able to master it... BELIEVE that you just need time... need practice... push yourself and never give up. You WILL figure it out.... rest assured... I am an example.

Here is the article... it is interesting because it discusses the stereotyping of Mathematics and boys... I remember hearing that boys are better at Mathematics than girls and thinking about it, I am not sure if my difficulties stemmed from that or not? Did you hear similar comments mentioned around you when you were a student? Then check out this study and its results.

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