29 January 2016


Reading Renee’s most recent post here took me way back. Way, waaaay back, to when I first publicly declared my love for math. Even when I wrote it here exactly four years ago, I wasn’t too sure about it. I was just trying to convince myself that I was not totally doomed. You know, like the way we are told to look in the mirror and speak stuff (positive stuff of-course), to our images on the mirror, that is exactly what I was doing. This blog had become my mirror (pun intended). The first time I did it, it felt like “coming out of the closet”. You know, based on what we hear people feel when “coming out”. I didn’t know what to expect. Would society embrace me? Would they accept me for what I loved? Would they respect this love? 

Looking back now, I can’t just believe it. Everything I do involves and revolves around math and statistics (which reminds me of this joke that a friend and I shared a few days ago about statisticians counting sheep. *chuckles* Statisticians can’t count many sheep to induce sleep. They count till they obtain a good enough sample size and estimate/predict how many sheep they will have counted by the time they sleep, making it a futile exercise *chuckles a bit more* Under repeated sampling #BringBackMyLife lol). Don’t look at me like that. That was funny. Okay then *ignores the crickets chirping in dead sillence*, moving on swiftly. But really, my rosy relationship with math wasn’t always like this. 

Like most of people who studied in rural nursery and primary schools, math was a BIG challenge. I would hear math and squirm at the thought of the numbers on the blackboard. Heck, I once had a nightmare that my math teacher had come to kill me. Now, that could be related to the fact that he looked scary and seemed to find pleasure in caning those of us who got zeros in math exams, but it could also be figurative; you never know. And so I grew up hating math and anything math-related. I would look at my brother in awe when he received those cups, plates and trays for being best in math (lol, those days were awesome yaani, when primary schools would prepare you for a life out there by giving you such meaningful gifts.) What do schools give these days as rewards? Phones? Tablets? Where did we go wrong?

source: pixabay.com
Well, my math grades (all grades generally) would take the steepest descent method each and every time we did exams. So much that my mum had my hair shaved (I had really long hair) and threatened to move me to some local school we would make fun of. Then I got transferred to a better school. How I passed that interview, God knows. And so, my life changing moment came one day as we were handing in some math problems while in class eight. I remember it so vividly you would think it’s like one of those days that Veon talks about here. I had sketched this pie chart and some calculations below it so neatly that when the teacher saw it, he showed it to the class and praised it. He shook my hand and told me. “You are a bright girl Njeri, and keep doing this, and God will bless your brain”. I remember muttering “Amen, I will” under my breath. I grabbed that. installed it in my head and I have never looked back since then. And funny enough, once the math started getting in, all other subjects started making sense. 

See, the words of Mr. Murungaru (that is his name), may have been inaudible to the rest of the class but they were spoken to me. When he commended me on my great work; I felt like nothing could stop me. And that is the amazing thing about teachers and parents. Their words influence our lives in such a great way. Most of the time we take it for granted that someone taught us how to write, how to read, how to speak good English, swahili or whatever language you are good at. We forget that it took patience, skill and someone believing in you to see you acquire and grow in whatever skill or talent you have. IT, science, fashion, embroidery, pottery, farming, business, singing, acting, playing that instrument; name it. Teachers are the least appreciated people around and that needs to change.

For them to think less of themselves that much that they want to see you prosper and see you spread your proverbial wings and fly, they need more appreciation. So take the time from now on and make it a habit to appreciate that teacher, mentor, parent or friend who taught you something that changed your life. Say #Asante (thank you) and share your story. For me, I appreciate all my math and statistics teachers/lecturers who taught me to look at the world through the eyes of math.

#AsanteMwalimu (Thank you teacher)

Facebook:  Njeri Kareithi
Twitter: @deekareithi


Post a Comment