Remembering my math teachers

It is no reflection on the excellent credentials of my math  teachers all through school that I did not learn the subject. It was me, alas. Have you heard of Numerophobia or Arithmophobia? They mean the pathological fear of numbers and yours truly suffered from those. Why, even Ramanujam couldn’t have taught me the subject! But my math teachers starting from primary school not only tried to din the subject into my unwilling head, but also tolerated me. This post is re-dedicated to each one of them to mark Teachers’ Day that falls on Sept 5.

In the days when ‘double promotions’ for very bright students was still the norm, I took a straight jump into the third standard, having been taught at home prior to that, due to the very frequent transfers my father’s job entailed. When my mother finally decided to settle down with us children in Nagpur, I was taken to Saraswati Vidyalaya for admission.

Mr.Ramamritham, the famous and dreaded maths teacher in the primary section took my test to see if I was eligible for his knuckle raps! (Old timers who remember him will remember the latter too!) He pleaded with my mother and uncle to get me admitted to the second standard, since he didn’t think too highly of my home ‘education’. But my mother was adamant that I would sit in the third, since I was already old enough to be in that class.

He finally agreed after seeing my proficiency in the languages and the marks I got in the ‘entrance test’ he set me, even though he was very very unhappy with my math, which I had barely managed to pass. I went through the two years of primary school, somehow managing to scrape through math, always wondering how some regulars survived his knuckle-raps on their heads. He usually did not subject girls to physical punishment but made us write an entire lesson of social studies or some other subject FOUR TIMES! He never realised that it only served to improve my handwriting but never taught me addition and subtraction!

And so I went through the successive classes, always scoring well in the languages, social sciences and even science, not to speak of drawing, but  barely managing to scrape through the dreaded math.

I had an excellent teacher at home: my older brother, the younger of two, who had graduated from the same school some years previously.  He was a math whiz and his name is still there on the roll of honour in the school. So you can imagine his chagrin when I came home with pathetic marks — certainly not fit for the sister of such a genius. I must have driven him up the wall at times.

‘What should you do to find out the answer for this one?’ he would ask.

‘Add the two,’ I would instantly reply and then looking at his face, hastily change it to ‘Subtract them.’ His face would have turned red by now. So after two more guesses – one of which fortunately had to be correct, I would heave a sigh of relief, for his face would have turned a dangerous shade of purple by that point! I never wrote down the answers to the questions in the math paper after an exam finding new excuses for not doing it. Why invite nemesis on one’s head before it actually was due, eh?

So I bumbled along and finally came to middle school and had another dreaded maths teacher. Mr. Landge was a wonderful teacher and every other student but me understood his lessons perfectly. He was a stickler for homework and I obediently completed the sums. I was not afraid of him for two reasons: (a) he was angry only when one did not complete the homework, never mind if they were . all wrong (which mine always were)    (b) he never hit a girl!

I could see that his palms itched every time he called my name to give back my homework copy scored heavily in red, but his restraint was admirable. He would shake his head in exasperation whenever he saw me in class. ‘Thangamani, tum bahut tang karte ho,‘ he would say.  I salute you sir, for putting up with me all those years!

My fear of numbers dogged me every step of my life, not just in school. When my mother sent me to the market to buy vegetables at the fair price shop, I would stand apart and calculate in my head how much each vegetable would cost and how much money I would have to give the vendor. And finally when I thought I had got it right, I would approach the man and give the list of my requirement. And when it came to settling the account, all the calculations would have fled my head and I would dumbly bring back the change he gave me, hoping that he had not shortchanged me. I would drag my feet home, frantically trying to calculate the cost of the veggies. It was no mean feat as I was hopeless in mental math.

Once, it so happened that I had got back 20 paise less or so I thought. It was a moment of complete panic. That amount would have bought a kilo of some vegetables back in the 60s. I didn’t know what to do. My elder brother’s face loomed large in my mind. Finally I sat down by the side of road and hastily calculated the amounts on the mud and discovered that the change was correct after all. By then I was sweating profusely! Whew!

maths-ftr

I’m sure you all remember the Time and Work and Time and Distance problems we did in middle school. Well, my brother would painstakingly coach me on those and I would be certain that I could crack it in the exam the next day. But come exam day and I would be frantic. All that would have happened would be a small change in the way the problem was worded and given a slight twist to make it more difficult. After a lot of scratching and scoring out, I would come up with the wrong answer! I hit the nadir when I failed in a term test. My brother refused to speak to me for a week and only when I promised to work so hard that I would never ever fail another test, did he relent. I am happy to say that I kept up that promise. But how!

Then I shifted to Mumbai to continue my studies in the eighth standard. During the two years I studied in the South Indian Association High School in Dombivali, my math teacher Mrs. Satyaraj was one exasperated woman. The subject had only got more complicated with trigonometry and theorems by the time I was in high school and were of no help at all.

Somehow, thanks to Landge sir, I had learnt Algebra well. I used to love the x and y problems and got them all correct! Don’t ask me how! I would complete that section first and then go on to the theorems. I knew all the diagrams that went with each theorem to the T, and neatly drew them, and copied what was required to be proved and then finally wrote ‘Proof:’ Now came the tricky part. I had no clue how to prove the darn theorem. So I just left it blank and went on to break my head over arithmetic. I remember once bending my head over the blank page and sobbing my heart out. I could vividly recall the daffodils swaying in the wind and the nightingale singing her heart out, but for the life of me couldn’t understand how I could solve the trigonometry problem staring at me!

Satyaraj ma’am would not have the heart to fail me in maths and so would somehow add a quarter mark here and a half mark there and even give a mark for ‘neatness’ and somehow pull me beyond the border. You see, I would have scored very high marks in all the other subjects, topping in the languages especially and had I failed in maths, I would have failed in the exams. I could never look her in the eye for my being so dumb in her favourite subject! Thank you ma’am. You helped me keep my promise to my brother and also my place in the class. I bow deep and low at your feet on this Teacher’s Day!

Math and I never saw eye to eye and I steered as far away from it as possible by electing to do my graduation in Humanities. To make a long story short, I finally lost my arithmophobia after marriage. No, the L&M didn’t coach me in the subject though he was another math wiz.

How then, do you ask? The humble milkman, kiranawala and paperwala managed to teach me to calculate faster than Chacha Choudhary (whose brain works faster than a computer) when I began running my home. So much so that I outdid even the L&M while calculating the monthly bills! And what was more, I didn’t need to prove any theorems to do these calculations!

Image courtesy:diaryofanelearner.com

70 comments

  1. You took me back to my good old school days as I read through each paragraph of yours only to reminisce nostalgically for a while about my fun childhood in school. So beautifully written and I was smiling along the way at all your math endeavors. Childhood is so much fun. Thank you for reminding me of my childhood. 🙂

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    1. Wonder why your comment went into moderation, Raj! I am so happy the post triggered happy memories in you. As for me, math only triggers terrified times of those days. It is only when I think of the great teachers of those days that it makes me feel better. But let me assure you, I can calculate faster than anyone at home!

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  2. Found In Folsom · · Reply

    BM, I am more or less like you. I like numbers…additions and subtractions but nothing more than that. I hated Maths to the core. I even remember scratching off the names of the authors of my 10th grade math text book. I salute you, Kuppuswamy sir for bearing with me..While I scored 54 in Math, I fetched 87 in English in my CBSE finals. But I chose commerce for Graduation and liked accounts. Sigh..it’s a story of the past. Unfortunately, my son didn’t acquire my passion for languages but my daughter did. 🙂

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    1. Come to think of it, we learn fractions and divisions and multiplications better in life than in classrooms, don’t we? How else would we divide the cake equally among the members of the family if we didn’t know fractions, eh? SEriously though, they should just have simple maths till students can decide on the stream they need to take. What is the point in foisting trigonometry on kids who want to learn languages or arts subjects? Good for you, the kids have different interests, unlike in my house 🙂

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  3. Math and me never went together and I think never will.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Moushmi. I am happy there are many like me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh how I wish math was not a part of curriculum.. tell.me I have to run a 5000 metres race in the stadium I knew exactly how many rounds to take..

    But ask me to calculate I can’t. ..
    This reminds me of some of my school teachers and Mr. Britto springs to mind.. oh boy a young handsome came from south india to teach in a school in patiala. And his yen’s and yex’s made life more horrible. . I bet he thought why of why did he take that job where the likes of me were the most OUTSTANDING Students. .

    Oh yes OUT standing students…

    The aim was to get 36 marks somehow as that was the pads mark .. and I don’t remeber getting anything above 36 ever in my history of studies…

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    1. Poor Mr.Britto! I am sure he wouldn’t have stuck it out unless he was dedicated to his job, accent or not 🙂 Oh yes, I know all about outstanding students, who stand OUT most of the time 😀 As for the minimum pass marks, I have experience of it only in math and I thank all my math teachers for pulling me past that mark as I would have failed in every exam otherwise 🙂

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  5. Ha ha nice post Zephyr. I could picture your Bros face changing colors. Every child has his or her nemesis. Mine was physics.

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    1. My brother was one great math/physics geek! Poor thing, it must have been such a hard thing for him to take when his sister was so terrible in his pet subject. BTW, physics is but a brother/sister of math isn’t it? 🙂

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  6. upasna1987 · · Reply

    Hello Mam, Its another nice post. I was not bad at Maths but did not like it after 10th. Moreover, dreams of half paper left unwritten and bell rang up dread me a lot, even till now.

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    1. You get nightmares about exams too, do you? It is not a surprise that you get them at your age, but would you believe I still get them, me, a grandma and all? 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. upasna1987 · · Reply

        Is it? I think they come because of our fear, which never left us. Do you know sometimes, I wish I could go back and study hard, excel and let go of the fear. I really wish.

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  7. Beat About The Book · · Reply

    That would be me all over. I was pretty good at math till class 10 and then suddenly we fell out.. and how! The horrifying part was that I was stuck with it through college and all through graduation because my parents wanted an engineer daughter. That didn’t happen of course and I hopped skipped and jumped to journalism. However I do manage the grocery bills, like you, and am better equipped to the LCM and HCF with the kids – so perhaps it was all for the best. Always a pleasure to read you Zephyr.

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    1. Oh, I couldn’t get away fast enough from math and wander into the Humanities group in college, thank God. And the last two years of schooling was done in Tamil Nadu with their Boards being the easiest in terms of math (at least in our days!) I ended up getting 93% in math, a feat I can’t get over, nearly half a century later 😀

      You are way better than me if you are able to teach the kids LCM and HCF, as my expertise is limited to the calculation of bills 🙂

      Loved your post about your librarian. They were some teachers, weren’t they?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Beat About The Book · · Reply

        They sure were and you are right they could be that way because they didn’t have parents breathing down their necks.

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  8. Hi cyber nag really enjoyed reading your blog. It has brought back all the pleasant school memories. I really loved reading about my school Saraswati Vidhyalaya and teachers. 😊😀😀

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    1. Hey Neeru! Good to see you here. I am glad that you remembered our childhood days. Do visit again.

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    2. Hey Neeru! Great to see you here. I am glad my post took you back in time to our school days 🙂 Which teachers do you remember the most?

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  9. Hi! Zephyr. Enjoyed reading your blog because i could relate to it well. If there was a subject that could have scared me it was maths. I very well remember Ramamritham Sir. I developed maths phobia because of him only. This phobia remained in me,for ever. He was so strict. Those who have experienced his pinch on the thighs can never forgive him. My God! such a terror he has created. There after the math never got into my mind. In 8th std,it was Bhramanachary Sir,who was our maths teacher.Another terror, used to fling dusters at errant pupil. I was waiting,when i’ll go to 9th std,so that i can get rid of this maths. Don’t remember much about Landge Sir. He is no more. When i joined teaching profession one thing i realized , if a student like the teacher,he puts more effort to learn the subject…I have seen that with my students! In my opinion the trouble lies more with the teachers. They should make an effort to think from the students point of view and should try to simplify it.

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    1. Hey, nice to have another old classmate here 🙂 I gave the link at the group site because I knew that there would be quite some of us who would remember our teachers. I used to hate maths even before Ramamritham sir came into the picture, so I won’t hold it against him so much. Maybe he served to intensify the hatred. I used to be a sickly child and apparently my mama had told him about it, which is why I never got any physical punishment but those copying the entire lesson four times did me in, making me wish he would hit me and be done with the punishment. It is nice to know you are teaching. And I am sure that someone like you who has turned a bad experience into a positive thing would be a wonderful teacher too. It is only such teachers who leave a mark even today, when teaching has become so commercialised. I tell you Rajee, teachers like you are a fast vanishing breed.

      Do visit again!

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  10. Haha! Reminded me of school and how dreaded I used to be of Maths exams. It never got into my head till class 10 (I even flunked a mid-term Maths paper once and my mother refused to carry the report card home!). After I passed my class 10 board exam with a decent score in the dreadful subject, everyone was relieved that now I wouldn’t have to study the numbers to score numbers. When I had to opt for subjects in Class 11, I did opt for Maths again! To my own surprise and to my parents’ horror!

    Class 11 and 12 were the two years when I gave my heart and soul to the subject. I was like a girl on a mission. When I appeared for my class 12 boards, I knew I could not have given it more than I had.

    I came out of the exam hall smiling. And even today, I am more proud of the 88 score in Maths than a 98 (and 2nd highest across the board) in another subject in my class 12 exams.

    Wrote a mini post of my own here, only because I enjoyed reading yours so much 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What is 1+2+3+4? 🙂
    Lovely post

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    1. If it is the number of packet of milk I have to pay for, it is 10. If it is part of an arithmetic problem, well….wait, will you, till I get my pencil and paper? 😀 😀

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  12. I was laughing throughout while reading this lovely post of yours, because I could relate to it. Well…I too was good in arithmetic (really!) and algebra but theorems were strangers to me all the time. I use to get pass mark because of the algebra!

    You sat on the way and calculated the bhaaji price? We were naive in our young age! Now we will never send our children or grand children to shop for vegetables or anything and the supermarkets have killed the thrill of calculation and bargaining!

    It is true that if we like the teacher we put more effort to learn the subject…I have seen that with my sons!

    I am poor in mental calculations even now! Always write the milkman’s account in the GRT calendar (about the days I don’t buy milk etc.).

    Very apt post for the Teachers’ day and enjoyed reading this, Zephyr!

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    1. No Sandhya, I was good only in algebra, probably, as I told The Fool, because it has letters and not just numbers in it. The arithmetic used to make me think of the tanks, the trains, my train journeys and the time I took every morning helping my brothers to fill our tank in the first floor of our house…in short, everything except the solution to the problem 😀

      Now I can calculate the amounts in a jiffy even without noting them down 🙂

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  13. Hey, and i did write that post after all, and in record time, i must add…. here is the link.. would love to hear your thoughts!!

    http://anushankarn.blogspot.in/2012/09/thoughts-on-teachers-day.html

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    1. Read it, but unable to post comment. Sending it by mail 🙂

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  14. A lovely post though I was probably in a slightly different league when it came to Arithmetic/ Maths who did not make to the Roll of Honor list:)A flood of memories came rushing while reading this post which was a beautiful tribute on Teacher’s day!

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    1. Thank you Rahul. Roll of honour? Here I was besmirching my brother’s name which was on the roll of honours in our school 😀

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  15. lovely post, Zephyr!!!! i had actually forgotten the date today, and this morning, yours was the first post I read… reminded me of what day it was, and also makes me want to write my own post about all the wonderful teachers i was so lucky to have!!!!

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    1. I couldn’t put up a new post since I was unwell and so had this put up by the younger one on my wall. Glad to know it inspired you to write your own ode to your teachers. 🙂

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  16. I had this phobia for the longest time ever! Sadly even running a home has not cured me of it. Now I let my sons to the math and shell out the cash. It all began in school, where our teacher used to fling dusters at errant pupils and had an awesome aim.
    We became experts at ducking

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    1. Fortunately for me no one laid a hand (or a duster) on me probably because I was so puny and they feared I might drop dead if they did 🙂

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  17. I hear you Zephyr ! I suffer from Maths phobia and still get nightmares about flunking in my maths exam – I am useless with even simple calculations and I long back gave up trying to calculate how much I need to pay the shopkeeper. Glad to know of a kindred soul!

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    1. You mean, you don’t calculate how much you have to pay the shopkeeper? You are a wonderful person with great human values like trust even if you are lousy at numbers 😀

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  18. Great Post, Zephyr! And some of your descriptions made me remember some of my teachers too !

    I was one of those who managed to do maths well, X, Y, Theorems, trains rushing in opposite directions , and all those problems in algebra with unknowns. Possibly because of some excellent maths teachers in school, and a mother who inculcated a love for the subject through mental maths, whenever I accompanied her to the bhaji market (to the great admiration and amusement of the old veggie sellers who greatly approved.).

    It is true that if you have a great teacher for a subject , it makes you try to do well. Social studies was the bugbear as far as I was concerned, and to this day I remember by-hearting the entire lesson on Ceylon for a Geography test. I completely messed up the numerous Mohameds (Tughlaq, Ghazni et al) as well as the various Bajiraos in history, and only admired the Preamble of the Indian Constitution (could recite it) amidst everything they taught in Civics.

    It took me many more decades to learn, that for children, successes of several types exist cheek by jowl with these academic successes, and are no less.

    If we only looked That lesson was taught by Professor Life. . The greatest teacher.

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    1. Truly, no one better than Professor Life to teach us things including math as it did me! I couldn’t have made mistakes in calculating how much I owed the grocer, milkman or others could I? And today I caculate so fast that I leave even the L&M calculating, ‘barah panje saath….before I have the figure 😀

      I wouldn’t agree that maths can be made interesting by a good teacher if there is no inclination towards the subject at all. Even my brother, who made it so interesting with lots of practical example and stuff couldn’t make it so for me 😦 School only reinforced the dislike. I will never forget the agony of going for bhaji shopping and wondering if I had got the right change every day 🙂

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  19. I have no hesitation to admit that I used to get just boundary marks to pass Maths paper and felt relieved when got rid of the subject!!!!
    I really wonder if now the students have the same kind of fear reverence & respect towards their teachers?

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    1. In our days, it was still fine to give up maths when a student wanted to, but in times of competition like now, if the first choice is not the maths group, then woe betide him or her. Things hopefully are changing!

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  20. Interesting. Wonder why so many people have this phobia towards math. But even I realized I was not as good at Math as I though myself to be when I came up against advanced Math courses in Engineering. (Though none of it was ever used in the rest of the engineering course) Barely scraped through.

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    1. You are talking of Advanced math; I am talking of basic maths. The numbers somehow never looked as attractive as letters, which why perhaps I liked algebra 😀

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  21. Siddharth is planning to assemble a comp for me. After that he will help me open my blog. Thanks for inspiring me. I hope I dont let you and Siddharth down.

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    1. Way to go Pratibha! I am looking forward to the blog, which I am sure will be very interesting. Ask the kid to hurry up, though!

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  22. so that is how i ll get over my arithmophobia huh…. bad luck, i ll nvr get cured then 😐

    i still am struggling with math.. and even the simplest and simplest of sums is a complex puzzle for me… wat will u say abt the girl wen asked wats “1/100” replied get the calculator 😀

    teehee 😀

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    1. Hey Ratzzz, welcome back! Don’t worry, you may never need to learn it, since everything is computerised these days and you have a calculator, as you have rightly said! 😀 so punch away the problems!

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  23. Zephyr: first of all, a big hello and a bigger apologies for not noticing that your blog had shifted. I kept wondering about your blog not being updated on my blog roll and hence visited infrequently.

    nice blog, nice design.

    for this post, i have had the reverse experience in school – the math teacher successfully managed to kill whatever enthusiasm that I had for it because in her opinion I was naughty and was good enough to do well in studies, specially in maths, which was only reserved for “good” girls.

    you were fortunate. many teachers don’t recognise that their personal biases, prejudices and actions can have a strong influence in young minds. I have also had the fortune of meeting great teachers both in school and collage and many ways, my love for literature, language and curiosity into the human dram stem from their active encouragement and affection.

    see you soon

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    1. Hey Sharbori, nice to see you back here! I have tried to post comments on your blog, but have not been able to. I must apologise too for not visiting for the past week or so. I think many of my old readers have not updated their subscriptions to this site. 😦 Thanks for the compliments on the blog!

      As I said in my reply to Purba, maths teachers often make you defensive by making such comments like, ;you need brains to study the subject.’ That probably happened to you too. My teachers were all excellent and for teachers in those days, were well aware of handicaps in their students. That’s why, though exasperated, they never put me down and so I felt compelled to perform — without much success! 😀

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  24. Ohh I suffered from the Maths phobia for the longest. It’s only in my senior classes did I actually start tolerating the subject.

    In my opinion the trouble lies more with the teachers. Instead of demonizing the subject they should try to simplify it. Explain from real life examples and make an effort to think from the child’s point of view.

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    1. You are right about the teachers demonozing the subject. They make it look like the preserve of only the very intelligent students, instantly making you defensive and complexed! For me it was the other way round — began dreading and hating the subject in high school after bumbling through primary and middle school, 🙂

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  25. It’s a fact, for some people math just doesn’t add up.

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    1. Oh, yes, except that I learnt to add, subtract, divide and multiply well after entering adulthood!

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  26. I was always afraid of Maths teachers and their sticks in schools. In fact when I happened to meet one of my teachers after a gap of 44 years, I reminded him of the beating he used to inflict on us and he had a hearty laugh. Those were the days………

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    1. Oh, in those days the beatings, knuckle-raps and other forms of punishment were taken in their stride by both the students and the parents. Today, though it has been banned, some teachers really beat up students much to the physical and psychological harm of the latter. And you are right, the maths teachers used to be the harshest in those days! 🙂

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  27. I can so relate to this one. If there was a subject apart from Physics and Hindi in primary school that could have scared me it was maths. I still can’t figure out how I cleared maths in the boards. Maths and Physics can still scare the living daylights out of me. And if calculus, geometry, vectors were not enough in school, college introduced me to stuff like Fourier and Laplace transforms which frankly never made much sense to me except that they did life difficult.

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    1. Nice to see you back here after a long time Sumit! Yes, I remember your comment to this effect on one of my other posts. Seriously, they should not subject a student to torture after middle school, allowing him or her to choose to drop the subject if they are not going for technical studies (in your case you had to study since you eventually went for engineering). I for instance had decided in primary school that I would give up the subject the moment I could. So I think it was rather unfair to subject me to all those tortures. Don’t you agree?

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      1. to a certain extent maybe. but i have seen people struggle with basic equation balancing when doing financial calculations. maths is a necessary evil – can’t help that one!!

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  28. awww so sweet..and you studied in Saraswati Highschool?
    Most of us had Maths Phobia 🙂 I used especially hate those sums which involved..one train is travelling a X kmph from east to west and another from west to east…when will they cross each other…ughhh

    I am glad that phobia is gone now…

    btw I did read your comment on my blog 🙂 I will write soon..just been taking a break as I underwent some tests and medical procedures…promise to come back to full time writing very soon…Thanks for your message..I was glad to know that someone missed my posts 🙂

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    1. Thanks LP! Yeah, I studied up to the 7th standard before migrating to Mumbai. Seriously, of what earthly use is a problem involving two trains passing each other? Maybe it will help one brace for the crash when they collide, going by the accidents one reads about all the time? 😀 😀

      Oh, yes, I miss your tongue in cheek posts especially on the gender issues! What happened to your health? Hope all the tests are fine. Wish you a speedy recovery. Take and come back soon! 🙂

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  29. ZM your panache for the languages is amply visible through your blog but it is interesting to note how you fared in Mathematics. I, for one, particularly loved Mathematics but that comes with a rider – only till Class X. The thing is, according to me, the teacher makes you love or hate the subject. Till Class X, I had good Maths Teachers. Well, actually, till Class XIII my mother, with some help from my grandfather and father, was my chief Maths teacher and when the Maths got beyond her in Class IX, the school teacher managed to fill in exceptionally well. So, I loved Maths – breezing through algebra, trigonometry, geometry, theorem proofs, what have you. Then, in Class XI, disaster struck. I started preparing for IIT-JEE. The junior college I joined was affiliated to CBSE and the teacher had been teaching Maths for donkey’s years. While I somehow managed to push my way through Class XI, in Class XII finally my teacher failed me. The reason – we were taught to solve problems for IIT-JEE in a certain way and the Class XII teacher insisted I do it her way – and when I refused to, disaster struck. Thankfully for me, my Maths teacher from the previous school left and joined the school I was in for Class XI-XII (divine providence!) and I didn’t fail again but the incident destroyed my love for Maths. I got decent marks in IIT-JEE mains in Maths and even cleared all the Maths courses in engineering college but Maths was never the same for me.
    So here’s to all the teachers who actually make the subjects interesting for their students – Happy Teachers Day!!!

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    1. You seem to echo Prasanna’s comment about a good teacher making the difference. But unless you love the subject, you can never be good at it. That’s my experience. Fortunately for you, you began loving the subject with your mom teaching you! I began schooling on the wrong foot, so to speak and so it continued all my schooling life!It is rather sad that one incident of failing made you lose your love of the subject!

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      1. As a student. any Maths teacher could easily ignore me. I remember mugging up the Pythagorus theorem, as I could not understand it and was my teacher’s favourite question. But like you I also loved X and Y questions and of course the unitary methods. So passing was not always difficult.
        Since I was scared of Maths I didnt want Siddharth to be scared of it. So, I devised number games to play with him. Thank God! numbers became his friends. And while teaching him I learnt Maths. Another thing that added to his love for Maths is my husband’s proficiency in Maths, specially calculations – any amount of numbers. I found my son imitating his father. Today when I see him calulating as fast as his father it is difficult to say who is more content.
        I am a teacher by profession, and I have observed that mediocre students make a better teacher. Since they have experienced ‘not understanding’ lessons easily, they explain clearly and dont mind explaining more than once.
        Probably, most Maths teachers have been brilliant students and so are unable to come down to the level of a weak student thereby making it the most dreaded subject.

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        1. Welcome back Pratibha! I am glad a teacher is responding to this post. Weren’t you lucky to be able to mug a theorem. 🙂

          You are so right about mediocre students being better teachers! But there are exceptions here too. My brother is a maths whiz and could teach too! In fact, he revised by teaching his classmates, even in Engineering college!

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          1. No doubt we have exceptions. And yes. teaching is the best way to learn. As already admitted, I was a mediocre student,lots of lessons were beyond my comprehension. The easy way out was to attempt the easier questions, pass and move on to the next class. BUT when it came to teaching those lessons which I skipped as a student, I had no choice but to understand and then teach. I am pleasantly surprised that my students understand it easily. When I admire their intelligence, they appear to be surprised.
            Two memorable comments I want to share with you. One of the students said,”your teacher did not know how to explain, mine knows.” Another one said ,”thanks for teaching me how to question”.
            As a teacher I encourage students to question. At times refuse to teach if they dont. My teachers did not encourage questioning and would allow students to laugh in case one asked a “stupid” question.
            I became a teacher by default but now love every bit of it. I try my level best not to do what I disliked in my teachers.

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          2. What lovely compliments from one’s students! Listen, why don’t you start writing your experiences as a teacher? It is the ones like you that can give insights into the profession — someone who has learnt how to teach effectively. I think I had already suggested this once to you and even told Siddharth. Go for it, Pratibha! Start soon!

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  30. being a teacher and that too in mathematics I have seen in my whole teaching life how killer the subject it it. But I believe the difference is in the teaching

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    1. Welcome here Prasanna! I do agree that a good teacher makes a difference in learning, but when the subject itself is too daunting, nothing can help. All the three great teachers I have mentioned in my post were perfectly able to teach the rest of the class and they loved them too! Sigh…

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  31. Now this is something I totally can relate to..Gosh..all these years I struggled with the damned subject & no one told me about Numerophobia or Arithmophobia?! 😛

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    1. Welcome here Rinaya! 🙂 I wish I had known the term back then; it would have at least made me feel less miserable than I felt being such a dodo!

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