I hated maths in school. HATED it. I don’t remember early primary maths, but when my family moved to Sweden and I was enrolled in a correspondence programme, I know I avoided it, and did as little work as humanly possible.
When we returned home to New Zealand a few years later, I was far behind. I was put in the ‘dummy maths’ class. Obviously that’s not what the teachers called it, but the kids sure did. And then I went to intermediate school, and for complicated reasons, ‘dummy’ level in primary was somehow ‘advanced’ at intermediate and I was again in special classes. Classes that were often unsupervised, and so again, I did as little maths as humanly possible.
By the time I got to high school, I had gained enough skills to scrape through maths classes, but I sure hated the subject. My mum tricked me into going to a maths tutor and I was so angry at her for doing that to me. The day I passed the minimum level of maths to finish school with, I was so happy. Never again I said.
So it is slightly hilarious that I ended up in a job 12 years later that required me to TEACH first-year university maths. It certainly hadn’t been in the job description when I applied, but I was assured by my employer that I could manage it.
And then I forced myself to pick up the damn textbook and just try to solve the first problem. And it was ok. So I tried the next. And it was ok too. Huh.
This thing that had scared me for so long? Well I still didn’t love it. But I could do it. I had to write my lesson plans as scripts, but I did manage.
Who knows what younger Jess could have done if she’d conquered maths earlier – become a lawyer or doctor? Taken physics classes? But then I wouldn’t have taken as many arts subjects and I really believe there is value in them too.
Anyway, what I learnt most is that I can still surprise myself. And just because I hated something earlier if life? Well that doesn’t mean I have to hate it forever.
I wonder what else I should try out again?