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What I Didn't Know, I Learned In Grade Eleven Math Class

I recently had a conversation with my youngest son who is in the thick of it finishing grade eleven. I recounted to him about my failure in his grade to pass what I believe, was one of the hardest years in math. Now, I was never a genius in math, but, in all sincerity, this particular year was extremely challenging and one my non-mathematical mind will never forget.

I recalled how it felt unjust that I could not understand the teacher. She was a brilliant woman who received a doctorate in math (I have no idea why she was teaching at the high school level) but, was new to Canada. Outside of the class she could have been a relative, laughing, smiling, joking with the girls and yet, behind closed doors, she was stone cold serious about math. I attempted to explain my situation to her and received very little sympathy. The last few tests I had written had formed a perception of my math capabilities that was going to be anything short of a miracle to change. To no avail, I told my son, I ended up at Bathurst Heights High School with one of my best friends re-doing the course at summer school. I have to admit, at sixteen, a half day for a few weeks with a bunch of cute guys and my pal wasn't so bad!

Why did I tell my son this story in the deep dark days of finishing the school year? This somewhat humiliating experience taught me not only some very valuable life lessons but also lessons in running a small business. I was convinced in that class that I could not achieve at math. Of no fault of her own, I was a challenging student who, back then, needed additional attention. It was not common place (my age would date me) to approach your teacher as it is today with your serious misgivings about a course. In fact, it was considered an insult if you challenged their teaching capabilities. The last eight years I have balanced end of days, calculated earnings for employees, understood taxes with respect to small business and much more. Could it be that my fear of failure, my inability to be forthcoming for additional assistance and finally not managing my time well, led to my demise in that class? One hundred and fifty percent true. What I have come to realize is that so much of what we do in life is dependent upon our confidence level and feeling as though we can succeed at it. I would have never bought the franchise if I didn't believe I could sell cards and gifts.

Most of us could have studied to be something other than what we are doing today. In fact, studies have shown that the average person changes their profession about five times in their lifespan. If I head down the "rabbit hole" about why this is, you will be turning the pages of a chapter book! 

Was math my weakness? Clearly it is not one of my strengths yet, I believed I could run a small business and that required a fair amount of math; in particular mental math. I was determined to make a go at being a small business owner and nothing, not even my trepidation about math was going to stop me. I had a passion and so the numbers became secondary; a moot point so to say.

Our children need to be encouraged that despite what grade they achieve in high school math, they can be the president of a bank, a strategic analyst or the owner of a small business. As we walk through life wondering if our past weaknesses will define our present successes, we must avoid the mindset, "I will never be good at" cripples the truth and meaning behind our capability to achieve all life has to offer.

"The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive and Godlike. It teaches us although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it". Helen Keller.


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