hanafahim asks: I am not at all good at math. I am always confused in it and I always end up in last in my class. What can I do?
Hi hanafahim –
Well, as you can guess, I am just terrible at math. The only skill I have in it is a bit of Geometry – or is it Trigonometry? – where I can judge the angle a squirrel will run from me based on the location of the nearest tree. But I’m no good at addition or subtraction, and don’t even try me with Algebra or Calculus!
The difference between us, of course, is that no one has ever cared one bit about whether dogs know Algebra. So it’s not a problem for me. But I know it is for a lot of humans – you’re certainly not alone.
The only advice I can give you is due to something that happened to Handsome when he was a kid. He wasn’t very good at math either, and found it boring. And then one year his school had a big problem. His sixth-grade class was so small that they couldn’t afford a teacher for it! So they had the sixth-graders share the fourth and fifth-grade teachers, with one exception. A student’s mother, who had majored in math in college, came in for an hour a day to teach those sixth-graders. It was five kids and her, in a tiny dressing room. At the beginning of the year, they were doing basic boring fifth-grade work. By the end, they were all math whizzes, doing eighth-grade Algebra and Geometry, and loving it.
And there was only one reason why. It was that teacher. She was kind and friendly and the kids adored her. But more important than that, she was passionate about math! She found it fascinating, and loved everything about it, and because of that she was able to get those kids to feel that passion too!
Now that teacher was one-in-a-million, no question. I wish I could tell you where to find one like her, but I have no idea how to do that. But what you can do is to find a tutor. Someone who really loves math, who’ll work with you outside of school. Maybe it could be another student at your school, but a better idea might be to find someone outside – it might be a great idea, if you live near a college or university, to see if there’s a math student there who could work with you.
I know there’s a lot of pleasure in math. There’s an excitement to the logic, a fun in figuring out the right answers, that can make the study of it a total blast. But you need someone to help you get there. And frankly, hanafahim, that’s probably impossible in a classroom with a lot of other students. So see if there is a way you can get some one-on-one tutoring. But make sure it’s from someone who really really loves it. Because it’s that love that can make it fun for you too.