Summing it Up
Off on a Tangent, Daydreaming About the Maths Teacher
It was the day of the dreaded maths test which always occurred during two double lessons that took up most of Wednesday afternoons. I was hopeless with numbers but at least the teacher was dishy. It was 1971, decimalisation had confused me no end - I just didn't see the point to it - and at twelve years of age I was old enough to realise that I was never going to be the next Einstein although my position had improved since Mr Kilbride became my maths teacher - if you consider going from 26th to 24th in the form an improvement that is.
I attended a Secondary Modern School but it was on a hill so I wasn't exactly lying when I told people I went to a "High School." I knew I wasn't a complete dunce academically because I had reasonable ability in most other subjects, but I'm certain I failed my high school entry at eleven because the exam paper was largely based on codes, series and numerical questions.
So there I was one day in class, daydreaming about the maths teacher who if my memory serves me correctly looked a bit like Hutch from the TV Series "Starsky and Hutch" - only with ginger hair. I've never fallen for anyone with ginger hair before or since so it was a one-off. Mr Kilbride would draw up at the school gates each day in his brand new silver Renault 16 only to be greeted by nearly every teenage girl in the school, who most likely all had crushes on him too.
I really wanted to impress Mr Kilbride as you do with a teacher you have a crush on but it was impossible for me to make any sense of anything he said. I thought pie charts were something to do with cookery, logarithms were just pure gobbledegook and algebra might just as well have been something etched on the side of an alien spaceship. Daydreaming about the teacher soon became the only positive pastime during maths lessons. You could say although I was rather obtuse, I had attempted to put a different angle on things.
Aptitude at maths is hereditary, I'm sure and I just didn't have the right genes. My parents were mathematical morons too, needless to say, and therefore could offer me little assistance. Even now, at fast approaching fifty, I've never been able to help my own children with their maths homework and swiftly disappear into another room whenever they mention Pythagoras. I can pay my bills and calculate my costs but anything else remotely mathematical still continues to elude me. I wish I'd been good at maths but now I console myself by thinking there would have been no practical application for the subject in my life anyway: It's not like I ever had dreams of being a rocket scientist or anything.
I still remember the maths test that day back in the early 1970s and it was awful. I felt stupid. I couldn't answer any of the questions. It was multiple-choice, so in the end, it just became a guessing game. I stared blankly out of the classroom window which overlooked the city, the river and the docks. Even my fantasies about Mr Kilbride offered little comfort. He won't be pleased with my efforts today, I sighed to myself as I placed my pencil back down on the desk, long before the time was up.
As it turned out, he wasn't impressed with anyone else in the form either and he gave the whole class a stern lecture the next time we had a lesson. "Look out of the window," he said as he handed back our test papers and pointed to the panoramic view over the city. "There are high school pupils out there who are far more intelligent than you lot. You're only a bunch of Secondary Modern kids and you'll all have to struggle to make the grade..." He glanced down at my paper disapprovingly as he handed it back to me "... unless you all marry millionaires."
I looked up at him and smiled dreamily, "Sir, are YOU a millionaire?"
The whole class erupted in roars of laughter which only ceased when the bell rang to herald the end of afternoon school, but I just sat there and cringed, feeling even more stupid.
Good luck with this... as for me I'm happy to remain a mathematical moron!
Concentrate on the Subjects You do Best in
Although this article was written from a lighthearted perspective, lack of ability in maths can cause some serious educational issues and limit your career choices. But don't be dispirited if you find you are absolutely useless at it or any other particular subject in the curriculum for that matter. Do your best at the subjects you are confident in. Maths is a tricky issue as it's not a subject you are usually able to drop and you may have to compromise somewhat. Concentrate on your strong points and make use of your ability in other fields to complete your education and progress to a rewarding career. Everyone should be given the chance to build on their natural talents and abilities rather than be made to feel a failure if certain subjects don't come easily to them.
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© 2016 Stella Kaye