Much like every other elementary school student, I learned to do sums and carryovers and subtractions and borrowing, later moving on to learn the multiplication tables and yes, I can even do long division, which I swear—er—assert that many of today's students cannot, being utterly dependent on their calculators. It wasn't particularly enjoyable, but it was one of those things children had to do in those days, like clean their rooms and wash the dishes.
In high school, my feelings about mathematics classes became steadily more and more negative. Algebra didn't thrill me, but geometry—well, it seemed nonsensical to have to prove a theory that someone else had already proven, and probably someone who actually enjoyed doing it—was a struggle, and I can't even tell you how dreadful I was at trigonometry and slide rulers.
Words, on the other hand, are more than tools. You use them to tell a story, but the same story can be told with different words that paint an entirely different picture in your mind. Reading them opens up your mind to endless possibilities, and the ability to write them gives you the power to unleash the imaginations of others.
Writers are powerful. Numbers are useful. But you need both.
You may have gathered that I am a visual, verbal person. I have always had these stories running rampant in my head, calling out to me to be written for the enjoyment of others. Numbers have never called out to me. They are what they are. I freely admit my preferences. Perhaps some numbers person wishes to dispute this. Perhaps they can look at the clouds and see numbers calling out to them? I personally have never had this experience. I like words better. We must agree to differ.
But it seems to me that these days, nothing matters so much as numbers.
In education, it's all about “measuring”. Tests galore. A student knows her future will be determined by tests, grades and evaluations. But some things cannot be measured by numbers. Such as:
- self discipline
- sense of wonder
- big picture-thinking
- sense of beauty
I would argue that these things are far more important to most students than calculus; however, they can neither be taught nor tested, and are therefore considered less important than the ability to pass tests and courses. In my view, it is appalling that so many people value an education only for the monetary advantage it can give. Education should be much more about opening the mind than being able to regurgitate facts, and employers surely want their employees to be able to do more than just follow instructions. The last thing we should be doing is turning off future Steve Jobses by minimizing the unique skills they were born with in order to get them to spew out facts like everyone else.
|A wordlet of a sentence from my WIP|
Because the truth is, every person is unique, and that uniqueness cannot be measured by mere numbers. Education should be about cultivating each child's uniqueness and not about trying to make them all the same. But until the powers-that-be understand this, our schools will still turn out students who can take tests, but hate learning. Who will look at a beautiful painting and see dollar signs instead of beauty. Who never really understand what they are missing.
Because numbers cannot tell a story. They just are.
Susana has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. Voracious reading led to a passion for writing, and her fascination with romance and people of the past landed her firmly in the field of historical romance.
A teacher in her former life—but not a math teacher—Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and central Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.