Tuesday, 5 January 2010

An Artist Doing Maths Homework

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An Artist (Me) Doing Maths Homework



Those that know me will be saying No You Are Not. It is true, I am not. I am however in the same room as someone who is. As I am in charge, being the Parent, I am in some sense, doing the homework too. As 13 Year Old Son is also asking me questions about Maths Homework, I am even more involved.



Do I know anything about Maths? I know how to spell it. I know it is a language I don't speak, and I know it amuses my 13 Year Old Son that I am not like him, Mathsy. I was not even considered for a Maths O Level when I was at school. I and a few other girls, all very nice and none of us special needs, were removed at an early stage with sighs and gentle tutting, from the Maths World and put into a classroom with an elderly lady with a walking stick and nobbly fingers. We were, it seems, impossible to teach maths to. Too arty, too dreamy, too Off In Another Direction. I was not really aware that there was anything unusual in this arrangement; being a Fairy, I was not required to be interested in what the real world was doing.



So there we were. In a classroom, during Maths lessons where the other girls had Real Teachers, with Mrs Proctor, starting with the most basic of things, and quite pleased because the radiators worked in our classroom and not in the others. Well. Mrs Procotor treated us as intelligent girls who needed to learn the basics in a different language. She had time for us, she went slowly and talked simply about the syllabus she had prepared for us. She removed the pressure to learn and made it all seem possible. For the time I had Mrs Proctor, I thoroughly enjoyed Maths, and felt I was good at it. For the brief time I spent with this gifted old lady, I too was good at Maths. I don't know what happened to her, one term she was no longer at the school, and somehow I was put back into the mainstream Maths classes and not expected to cope. I didn't cope, but wasn't at all concerned. I didn't do an O Level in it, I did some other qualification and got nearly enough marks to pass the absolute bottom level, and I thought that a pretty fair assessment. But if I had continued with Mrs Proctor, would I have got a real Maths O Level? If I had continued with Mrs Proctor with no O Levels to sit would I have learned the Mathematics Language and been able to get by? I think the best thing would have been to have her twice a week for the rest of my life to delve into the wonder of this other world which was so difficult to grasp when it was presented as a package I had to learn and understand within a certain time limit in order to pass an exam.

So here I sit with my gifted 13 Year Old Son, for whom Maths is his best subject, while he practices (through gritted teeth and with iron shackles binding him to the chair) a Maths Common Entrance paper. Because he has to ask someone, he asks me. Alan is also in the room (thank God) and is very good at Maths too, so he can answer and I am left benignly smiling as if I do know the answer, I just choose not to outshine Alan.

I must point out before I go that I did get straight As in Art and English for my O Levels, so if I was clueless in one area of the brain, I was advanced in other areas. And my lovely 13 Year Old Son hates, just hates, Art and English and Writing. Ha. Divine Justice.

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