A lesson in Learning

Public school systems need to be more sensitive to their students. Parents play the major role in determining a child’s academic outcome, but the school system needs to notice children who don’t necessarily acknowledge their gift. These children need guidance -- I believe it is the schools’ responsibility to provide it to them. I have been through a situation that makes me feel strongly about the subject. My example is an indisputable case in point.

Math is my forte. By the time I was six or seven, I fully comprehended the concept of variables and algebraic expressions. Its fascinating to me that when I pick up a math text book, as long as I can pick up on a concept that I have already seen, I can read and absorb all the material, even if the text is explaining concepts I haven’t yet been introduced to. Math is the language you use to talk to computers.

My father raised me as a computer user. He taught me about the hardware inside the computer and he taught me how to write software. He knew that knowing how a computer thinks was big. Unfortunately, he never looked to them as a career. He would always tell me, though, that people were making fortunes with them, which is true. The average computer science degree pays $45,000.00 per year first year out of school. That’s bachelor’s, guaranteed, as long as you put together impressive software or technology while in school. Anyone, even a child, equipped with that insight should be able to find, if only abstractly, their purpose in life. What could go wrong?

Thinking back to my compulsory education career, I remember having a discussion with my eighth grade math teacher. I asked him, "Do you think I can handle algebra?" His reply was, "You’re going to have to work at it." You see, I hadn’t yet found variables in books. I hated long multiplication and division. I was considered a middle-average student. I only averaged a low C in grade school and middle school math. Why? I was bored with it. Doing long division in your head is stupid.

So freshman algebra rolled around and I loved it. After two weeks in the class I was three and one half chapters ahead of the teacher. He would only assign the odd problems for homework, but I’d do them all. Geometry was even cooler. But thinking back, not one of the teachers even commended me for doing so well. My father noticed I was good at it, but I thought he had to tell me I was good; he was my father.

The next year, my junior year, I started to become a more social person. Not having the proper guidance to balance my education and social life, I started slacking. I pretty much gave up on school, moved out of my parents’ house at 17, and thought I had the world figured out. Somehow I still managed to graduate with a 3.2, but I never gave college a half a thought. I was busy being an idiot.

My father always encouraged me to do well in school, and he was very proud of me. He always told me the importance of math and how being good at it would offer me a good career, but I was a teenager. To me, him telling me to do my math so I can get a good job ranked right next to him telling me to take out the trash. I needed more encouragement. I needed proof that math was actually used for something. Not one teacher ever pulled me aside and said, "Hey you’re good at this. This is special. Don’t let this go." Not a counselor, nobody. During my junior class scheduling my counselor looked at my record and said, "Like those math books, eh?" That was all he could say? I would get 100 percent in the class some semesters. No one could say anything. I look back on now that I’m older and I think, "Man it would’ve been nice for someone to say something."

I’m not blaming, all my mistakes are my fault, but you would think that taking a sincere interest in students would be