To the teacher who made me hate mathematics

Dear Sir,

I was just a child who wanted to learn and who enjoyed school because my curious mind was being fed. I wake up early with the excitement of going to school to learn and play with my peers, until there is a quick and painful awakening of what awaits me early in the morning during your lessons.
I was not very fascinated by numbers but I wanted to find out what I could accomplish with them nonetheless but the sound of your cane descending on our backs early in the morning put fear in the center of my brain and I could not think of any other thing apart from the pain that was synonymous with your subject. I remember all the meanness as if it was yesterday and I don’t know if you just derived pleasure from inflicting
pain or it was just a teaching method gone badly.
As I write this I am struggling to remember your name that is how much I fear you sir, so much so that I dread to even remember your name. Every morning in school was torture for me as there was what is known as early morning “mental” (any Ghanaian student knows the caning that goes with that word). It was supposed to be a morning brain teaser before the main lessons but it soon turn into a caning bazaar.
The pain you inflicted was supposed to make force us to take the learning of mathematics more seriously but it ended up filling my whole being with dread and hatred for all things numbers and for years I struggle to deal with numbers. The choices of courses later in life were determined by the absence of numbers because I did not feel worthy of numbers.
My friend and I who constantly got canned every morning came up with ways to cheat (something I was not proud of) so we would not have a sour back to take home. As you would instruct us to exchange our exercise books with the person next to us and mark each other’s work, the two of us would quickly exchange our blank exercise books and write out the correct answers for each other as you wrote them out on the board. This was our only chance of escaping the consistent forced relationship we had with your cane.
I am not totally blaming you for my natural weakness with numbers but you did little to encourage me to find some fascination with numbers.
Today, I have come to terms with the fact that I am just not good with the formulas and rules that go with numbers and I will rather read books and analysis characters or write poetry, but I do wonder what my relationship with numbers would have been had you not forcefully broken us up.

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4 thoughts on “To the teacher who made me hate mathematics

  1. Sheila, I love this!

    Sorry to hear that. I also disliked mathematics right from kindergarten. I cannot even begin to tell you how it was for me that I now hate Mathemtics.

    I was recently inspired to write flash fiction on this subject matter. I’ve also written about it in poetry, it was strangely inspired by “Talented Kidz” on TV3:

    do we really need
    to go through this
    again, and again?

    when there are better ways
    to show me the right moves
    so my intelligence adds up
    without subtracting my talent.

    i dislike mathematics;
    the way you teach it.

    my poor arithmetic grades
    multiply my frustrations.
    i drift off into daydreams
    with divided attention
    in class.

    this schooling way
    making me look stupid–
    this learning process…

    do we really need
    to go through this
    again…and again?

    ~the dunce routine~

    Thanks for sharing Sheila 😘.
    I’ll be posting the flash fiction soon.

    • I would like to thank you for making time to not only read but contribute to my writings. I appreciate that. It looks like most of us can relate to this and our educational system is doing nothing to curb it. i envy how you are able to creat from flashes of events. And i can relate to your beautiful poem here.”my poor arithmetic grades
      multiply my frustrations”. this line of your poem sums up my feeling back then. Cheers

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