Everyone encounters at least one subject in their student life that they feel is difficult to understand. For most of the students, it is none other than Mathematics. It seems difficult because it demands a unique way of approaching it: something different than English, History and Geography. Today, I will share my own journey from being afraid of mathematics to loving this subject.
I was in sixth grade when I first came across algebra. Boy, I was confused!!!! What is this x? Where are my numbers. It felt the algebra class more like an English class than a Mathematics class. In the seventh grade, things got more complicated with the introduction of the chapter “Factorization”. I hated that chapter from my soul! I couldn’t even get a single sum of it right. I literally shed tears when I was preparing for my exams. But God was kind and I passed my mathematics exam.
Then came the eigth standard and my parents advised me to join some mathematics tuition as I they thought I needed more time and guidance to study the subject. I reluctantly joined the tuition. I was pretty sure that this won’t make any difference. My school teacher is also good. Mathematics is my own weakness. I am not made for this subject. With such thoughts, I went to the tuition.
My tuition teacher asked me about the syllabus of the upcoming semester. I gave her the syllabus booklet. After going through the syllabus, she said something that was the last thing I would have liked to hear: “We’ll start with algebra”. With no option, I sat close to her and she started teaching me. After 15 minutes of teaching, I expected the words,”Now we’ll solve the sums.” She said that, but with a variation: “Now, you’ll solve the sums. If you encounter any problem, ask me.” I was afraid. I thought, “Every sum will be a problem.” I started with solved examples in the textbook. They were easy, because they were already solved. In the unsolved part, I faced problems. I would ask her every question. This continued for a couple of days.
On the third day, when I went to her with my problem, to my surprise she said, “I am busy teaching other students, try to solve it yourself first.” With no other option, I started solving that problem. It took me 20 minutes to solve it, but I did it. Trust me, I was on cloud nine. Though it was a simple problem, I myself solved it. I didn’t stop. I went on to solve the entire exercise. Although it took some days, but I did it. I showed her my copy and she appreciated it. She then said, “I deliberately didn’t solve your problem that day. I wanted you to tackle it yourself. This is how mathematics is done.”
Well, life was not the same after that. I went to the tuition and solved my maths problems on my own. The huge number of doubts that i used to have decayed exponentially (I speak mathematics now!). The result? I scored the highest marks in mathematics in my 8th grade.
I continued with this strategy. They say that the greatest way to overcome a fear is to face it. It is the ultimate truth. Now I am pursuing my Master’s degree in Physics. I never thought I would ever do that, given my poor mathematics and thoughts such as, “I am not made for mathematics”. Now I look back and realize that it was my self study and determination that helped me conquer my fears. If you are having trouble getting along with maths, well, get along with it through self study. It will take time, no doubt. But the investment will be worth it. Just don’t be afraid of the problems by seeing them before hand, try to attempt solving them and there you are – getting Mathematics the right way !!!