Many times in my childhood, I was misunderstood not only by my caregivers but also by my peers. My teachers, who I view as my destiny makers also misunderstood me in some instances. Life and education in the upcountry back then was an adventurous experience accompanied with the bliss of childhood memories; such as those school bells that reminded us it’s playtime or class time is over. This could open a whole new chapter in the day of all kinds of plays, the sorts that always ended at dusk. Getting home in the dark, knowing so well this will not end well but you still match home like a movie star only to be ushered in by the disciplinary committee. As if growing up and learning in a village school was not enough assignment itself, maths was a real “monster” to me.
I had this inner thought that would always make sense only in my brain and I couldn’t express the ideas whether it was through writing or verbally. Not realizing my inner inquisitive nature and adventurous way of learning that required patience and deep understanding, maybe just maybe, nature would have understood me much better or I could be, that one of us was too obtuse – that’s me or my destiny makers.
Back to my parents, to them I was that family lawyer, yes ‘okil kamaloka’ – the lawyer; because of my inquisitive mind, I always wanted to see that statements and assumptions made sense – not a perfectionist. However, I knew I had to be extra careful especially before my mother or else things would be rough home and away, knowing well she is a teacher in the same school I go to. I can vividly recall my morning trips to school (of course, it will be a nice morning walk) being met with constant stroke of the cane which was usually because of either incomplete maths assignments, or incorrect maths assignments. Sometimes the order changes but I realized the more they changed the more they remained constant.
It took me a while to realize that the stereotypical text nature of maths wasn’t my favorite cup of coffee. All this inquisitive nature was purely associated with my curiosity for anything related to numbers and whether they made sense. The numbers here were not limited to numerical but also statistics.
My high school maths life had fun moments and a few instances of strong smashes on my head by my ‘maths destiny maker’. To my maths teachers, ‘these things’ referring to maths things were always easy to see in their eyes. It seems like my maths journey was taking a new turn, from being “misunderstood” to landing into an “easy to see” pad.
Taking the context in my experience while working with kids, they have taught me one important skill, no actually two: the art of patience in teaching and learning, and whatever is so obvious to adults is not always obvious to kids. I find it awesome, and a moment of pure bliss when one of my students can break one of my obvious ones! For instance; when having a grid, why do we count the corner twice while getting the dimension length and width? That moment a child innocently asks you to make them understand what you have always found to be so open and obvious. Children have this “weird” ability to not know many things yet. This means that until they experience it or are taught, nothing is obvious to them. From this experience as a maths educator, now unlike before I assume less of my learners and I am careful with my assumptions.
Back to my high school life, it was a moment of rediscovering what it meant to be obsessed with logical maths. This made me think for a moment, maybe I wanted to inherit my mother’s prowess in accounting and money matters despite the limited educational background she had in this field. In business studies, the accounting option was always a bonus to my high school life, and this confidence made me think accounting was my next big thing. I was all wrong.
Maths started making a lot of sense when I joined University to pursue a maths course. This happened during one of my Introduction to logic, proofs, and refutations classes. For a moment I felt like one of my nerve endings were ignited, maybe this is due to the stereotypical texts in which maths had been introduced to me and made the subject look like a monster to me, maybe just maybe, this could be the case of many untapped skills and great minds lost in the pool of conventional way of learning. I have always found joy and beauty in collegial maths discussions and for this reason, I resolved to help and support young learners in trying to regain the long-lost glory of the maths language. Maths is freedom.