Dominador Z. Maranion II, RME
May 9, 2020
I grew up believing that proficiency in Mathematics runs in the blood. My mother was an English subject instructor in a local college, while my father worked as a stenographer in a Regional Trial Court in Manila. I would often hear from them that they were not good in Mathematics, though I remember them trying their best to support me with my assignments when I was a primary grader.
It was love at first sight with Mathematics. I remember winning Math contests during my elementary years, up to the Division level. But the excitement started to wane during high school. Mathematics got more and more abstract. It became my waterloo and greatly affected my overall performance as a student. My 4th year adviser was surprised though when she observed that I did well in Trigonometry.
My parents’ dream was for me to become a lawyer. But I had a different plan for myself. I wanted to create and build things. Physics was one of my interests. Though I knew I would be taking on Mathematics head-on, I applied for the Mechanical Engineering program and fortunately, I passed the entrance exam and was included in a block for the quota course.
Nothing changed. While I breezed through Physics and other GA subjects, as well as the Major subjects, Mathematics pulled down my grade average. Even during the board exams, the lowest grade I got was in the set with Mathematics. I hoped to get into the top 10, and until the end, Math stood in the way.
In trying to figure things out, I came up with these reasons: Math did not interest me, there were teachers who did not know how to teach, and I did not exert enough effort to learn.
As I wanted to become an engineer, interest in Math must be forced. Actually, I was only bad in algebra and integration. Therefore, my disinterest in Math was not absolute. First reason eliminated as root cause.
While there were teachers who treated their students as their level, and should have taught starting from the basics, this was a given. It cannot be changed. It was out of my control. Second reason eliminated as root cause.
Therefore, I was the root cause of the problem. When my interest for Math in high school started to fade, it was at my own bidding. I did not do anything to compensate for the weakness I faced. And in college, I would only study 2 hours before the exam trying to solve practice problems.
I started with the wrong mindset. Being good in Math does not run in the blood. There are gifted individuals who make it look so easy. However, being a normal person does not limit anyone from being good at Math as well.
In hindsight, Math is an easy subject. What makes it difficult is the lack of will to learn and absence of effort to understand how it works. Teachers play a vital role in jumpstarting the learning process, but in the end, the students hold the key in making Mathematics a solution, not a problem.