When The Sister was trying to get a job in consulting in London along with thousands of other bright, motivated grads from all over the world, she was subjected to some first round numeracy tests which are designed to separate the numerically gifted from the rest of us. She had higher grade Matric Maths and a major in Economics behind her but despite this, these little tests were nasty. So when she beat two Oxbridge candidates in a final round group interview and landed her dream job in consulting, she was relieved that her future was not, after all, going to be determined by a mini Maths test. The subject of her e-mail to announce to her nearest and dearest that she’d got the job, was: Who Needs Maths Anyway?
Apparently, I do.
My very first lecture as a mature student in Economics last night began with this little hand-out:
How good is your understanding of Matric Maths? You may think you are a Maths whizz (and good for you if you are) but if you struggle to answer any of the following questions with your current understanding of Maths, you are going to struggle with the Economics 1 course material. These are examples of the type of Maths problems that you need to be able to solve in order to pass this course…These examples are considered easy for the purposes of passing this course.
He then “whizzed” through an hour of “easy” examples. Not only, did I not find the examples easy, I understood close to nothing. Nada. Niente. Rien du tout. It was absolutely traumatising. I wanted to jump out of my seat and run out of the lecture theatre, get into my mommy car with it’s BABY ON BOARD sticker, race home and be faced with problems that I understand, like why The Princess has a tantrum when I tell her she can’t have another biscuit. Things that my brain can rationalise and process and relate to. Suddenly the frustrations of being a stay-at-home mom seemed so much safer than getting my head around the derivative of a function. The worst part was that I sensed that this was not difficult stuff. It was just impossibly, unfathomably difficult to me.
The good news is that I am married to a Maths nerd. And by Maths nerd, I don’t mean someone who was pretty good at Maths at school. I mean someone who did all the Maths problems in his Matric text book the summer before Matric began. For fun. As you do…That kind of Maths nerd. And one who has a University major in Maths.
The bad news was that if I asked him for help, it would be blatantly obvious to him how little I knew.
But it was also blatantly obvious to me that if I didn’t get help, I would fail the course.
And so, this morning, while The Princess watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, The Husband started explaining last night’s Maths problems to me. And very slowly, I realised that the material was not entirely impossible to comprehend. It might not be my forte, but with the right help, I hope to get my head around it.
The moral of the story? Marry a Maths nerd. Must get The Princess to understand this from an early age. (Unless she has inherited her Daddy’s Maths brain which, of course, is first prize.)