You may or may not know that while I have always been a good student, I have always struggled with maths. I told myself that I can’t be good at everything, and that’s just a weakness of mine.
But here’s the thing. When I think back, I realise that maybe there isn’t anything wrong with me, but with the content of the curriculum.
I recently realised that most of what I had to learn and understand during math classes has not at all been applicable in my everyday life, not even to impress in some pretentious conversation, and many skills that I could have used were not discussed at all.
For instance, I never learned about taxes. I need to pay them, that I figured from the threatening letters I received when I didn’t.
Yet, I have no idea exactly how it is calculated, where it goes, what I need to do to save on taxes and why some people put money in Swiss banks and somehow avoid taxes altogether. Why wasn’t that taught? That could have been helpful, literally applicable every year of my adult life.
Instead, I remember having to calculate the water mass and volume of a river that varies in width at different points. I can safely say that this has yet to come in handy.
The other thing I wish that I had been taught was budgeting and saving. While we learn to add and subtract, nobody teaches you about money, about interest rates, credit cards, saving for retirement, debt or personal financial management in general. Not surprisingly, most of us are in some sort of debt, or at least limping to the finish line that is payday.
Rather, I was busy calculating the speed of a ball that is falling off a tall building, considering its weight and the distance it needs to travel to the ground. I believe if I did this in real life, not only would it serve no purpose, but it would also be highly illegal. Though admittedly I have been tempted during watermelon season.
Finally, while the whole world calls for entrepreneurs, start-ups and creating new jobs, nobody explained exactly what maths one must consider when making investments and starting a business. I remember spending years and years doing abstract calculations that don’t even include numbers but just variables, figuring out the ominous formulas required to work out ‘x’. Well, it turns out that x ain’t worth a damn when you have a great idea and you’d like to know how to put it into action.
While we can’t change the curriculum or the past, dearest reader, at least we can make peace with it.
From now on I shall no longer claim I’m bad at maths; I shall say I am just a little more practical than the school system plans for!