Tenth Grade Teacher Made Me Feel Useless
I don’t think I am a poor student by any stretch of the imagination. I think I am reasonably smart and have a well-functioning brain. Back in Tenth Grade my math teacher would have disagreed with you.
I found many of the mathematical theories and processes confusing. It took me a long time to grasp what my teacher thought were simple concepts. At one point, severely frustrated with me, he threatened to deport me to Australia. (Apparently Aussies don’t do math?) He ended up washing his hands of me, and I scraped through my final exams somehow.
Ask my kids when the last time Ima helped them with math homework. They will tell you it was second grade math. What they won’t tell you is that I wouldn’t even try to help with the math homework because I was convinced that I just cannot do math. Some people cannot dance, I cannot do math.
Today, at work, I had to use math. It wasn’t rocket science quadratic equations – but it was still math. And I basically said there was no way I could do this because I cannot do math. Now, at work I will do anything asked of me, even things I don’t know how to do because I know I am learning and it’s all part of my continuing education. I finished everything else on my desk, and still that task waited for me.
Math gives me anxiety. Why? Because I am useless at it. How do I know? Because my teacher told me.
Guess what? I took my time figuring out what I needed to do, and actually managed to complete the task assigned to me. Yes, it took me longer than it should have, but I had to deal with that stupid pathetic inner voice that told me I couldn’t do it.
This teacher probably had no idea how his hurtful attitude shaped me and harmed me. For 28 years I believed I honestly was unable to do anything mathematically related.
In the grand scheme of things, this is not a huge deal, but it goes to show the effect words can have on a young person, and how far they carry that effect.