Aug 25, 2022

Everyone can do Maths, it is the way you are taught

By Heidi McGinty 

In my previous article I revealed my experience in a Maths lesson at the age of seven years old, but the journey of confusion didn’t stop there.

Do you have any memories of a Maths experience which potentially hampered your love and learning of the subject?

My next memory was in Secondary School. For those of you in different parts of the world the equivalent would be HIgh School.

As soon as I mention the words ‘Maths teacher’ you will immediately have feelings and thoughts related to that teacher and that subject.

My Maths teacher was called Miss Myatt and she was stern, with traditional views and strict. She was possibly in her forties or fifties, but difficult to know, I’m simply guessing — anything over twenty seemed old when I was a 13 years old! She was single and had no children.

I had tremendous respect for her, it was evident that she had a great knowledge of the subject and she was always meticulously prepared for every lesson. She would always have her handwritten teacher notes, handwritten scheme of work and marking scheme laid out in front of her. It was evident that everything was fastidiously planned. She never seemed to use a published textbook. I could tell it was always her own preparation. She must have worked incredibly hard and during her years of teaching this had allowed her to be proficient at her profession.

But I was absolutely terrified of her. I was frightened to approach her and I would always sit in the back row where I thought I could hide and go unnoticed, which I think I succeeded. Unfortunately, unknown to me at the time, I had poor eyesight and could not see what was on the board some of the time, because the chalk was so faint on the mid-grey blackboard. My eyesight wasn’t detected until three years later when I was 15, when my History teacher reported to my mother that I was always squinting at the board. In some of the lessons I was able to master the calculations with ease and would feel quite pleased with myself especially when I would get the calculations correct. However, some lessons I would pretend I understood and spent most of the timing praying the lesson would end. Each lesson would usually be something different, so I would think to myself, if I could just get through this lesson without being noticed, maybe I would understand something in the next lesson.

This is how my mathematical education journey continued until one day, when Miss Myatt did not come to class. It was rumoured that Miss Myatt had a breakdown due to stress at work. Unfortunately for a year, the school was unable to hire a consistent quality Maths teacher and my Maths group had five different teachers in one year. There was inconsistency with staff, you never really knew which member of staff would show up for the lesson. At the end of that year I scored 9% in my end of year Maths exam. The only consolation, I thought I had, was one of my friends got a lower grade which was 5%! The only way out of this abysmal grade was to project a persona and boast how low my score was and laugh it off! Of course, this was no laughing matter, as GCSEs would be approaching in the next two years.

Sometimes, when you have something taken away, you truly realise how good you had it. Yes, as odd as it sounds, I missed Miss Myatt. I missed her scrupulous ways of being strict and precise, but most importantly I missed her consistency.

With a few school friends, we organised a collection to get her a gift and we visited her apartment to give her the gift. Miss Myatt never returned to the school and I never saw her again.

As you can imagine, Maths became a struggle. Some days I got it, some days I didn’t. Unknown to me I had gaps in my learning and never achieved my potential at school in this subject. My mum paid for extra Maths lessons to make sure I passed my GCSE or O-Levels as that was what they were called then, but this feeling of never quite getting it always perplexed me.

It wasn’t until I became a teacher myself and realised the full extent of the responsibility I now held in my hands. This is when I started to seek the answers that I never achieved during my own school years as a teenager.

‘I sure as hell was not going to let what happened to me, happen to any other student I was going to have the privilege to teach.’

This is when the journey began. I was on a mission to make sense of Maths. It is this journey that has led to mydiscovery of the GradeBusters Maths learning system. If you want to find out how I discovered the 10 Secret Maths Principles that underpin all Maths, I will share this in a future blog. Once you understand these 10 Maths Principles, you will pass your GCSE Maths exam.

I believe it is everyone’s birth right to outstanding education.

Everyone can do Maths, it is the way you are taught.

What was your Maths teacher like?

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