Two books that made a difference
The idea of a teacher
The majority of my adult students claim they hate mathematics. I reply with the following question: “How was your teacher?”. The responses vary; too strict, boring, uninspiring, and not very serious.
So, what does it take for a kid to love maths? There is not a generic answer because every kid is different. They all do have a common denominator, though; inspiration. All they need is that little thing that will make them want to know more and leave them questioning every single thought of theirs. Now, it’s the teacher’s job to get to know every student, understand them, and, finally, find a way to inspire them. It is not as difficult as it may sound.
For me, it came in the form of a dilemma. I was sixteen years old and I had the hard task of choosing “what I wanted to be when I grow up”. I could either choose to be a philologist or go into science. I have to say I already liked both subjects and did well in school. I was enjoying classes as my teachers were equally challenging and fun.
Thus, I couldn’t choose. I was afraid I might do the wrong thing. What if I didn’t like what I had chosen? Going through SAT exams again would be dreadful and exhausting. I decided to then approach my math teacher and express my concern. He smiled and started writing something down on a post-it note. He gave it to me while saying “Read those two books and you’ll find out”.
And so I did.
The first book was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder and was a thorough introduction to philosophy. Among the many things it taught me, was that my heart was sadly not there. The other book was The Parrot's Theorem by Denis Guedj and as soon as I read the back cover I immediately felt intrigued. I was engulfed by the plot which was a complicated yet perfectly orchestrated one. My teacher was right; I had found out indeed. My heart, my mind, and my focus were there.
All in all, my teacher’s suggestion was all it took for me to unveil my true passion. It was this little thing that made me want to know more about maths. If he hadn’t put me into this dilemma I wouldn’t have found what I truly liked. So, be like him. Give your students the boost they need to start exploring their possibilities. Teach them but don’t forget to listen to what they have to say and help them when needed. You may change their lives.