mathematics

December 4, 2019

As a child and teenager, when it came to certain subjects, maths in particular, I never felt prepared, no matter how hard I studied. It’s hard to say whether this was because of the way I was taught –– my maths teacher was as exciting as his grey flannel suits –– or due to my attitude and aptitude. By the age of eleven or twelve, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was crap at fractions, and that I would never understand Pythagoras. My confidence was shot, which made learning that much harder. In those days, education sent children on either an arts or science channel quite early on, and it was unusual that you felt confident to move between the two. I was on an arts channel, eating books for breakfast, making collages out of old fashion magazines, and feasting on the details of the Battle of Hastings. Numbers weren’t in my wheel house. My best friend, Amy, cool and insouciant, was one of those rare girls who could whizz through an algebra problem, write a Haiku, and still have time to snog the cute boys at parties. I loved her confidence. To this day, my brain freezes when I’m presented with numbers to add or subtract. Like a six year old child, I use my fingers to make sense of it all. A few weeks ago, I was reluctant to challenge a taxi driver on a fare that didn’t compute in my head. My default, when it comes to numbers, is to assume that the other person is right, and that I am wrong. In this instance, I stood my ground and got my fair change. How many times have I been duped before? I can’t see myself taking a maths course, but I can see myself paying close attention to what my children are learning. Learning from them, I hope. And most importantly, speaking up when things don’t add up.

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