Rescued by my mother - a maths professor's story
I enjoyed listening to Radio 4's "The Life Scientific" this morning. Today Jim Al Khalili interviewed Professor Ian Stewart ,a mathematician and author who is currently involved in fascinating research into applying mathematics to problems in biology. You can listen to the whole interview on iPlayer here.
What really struck me was a lovely story about how at age 8 Professor Stewart was really struggling with maths and then:
- Here are his words:
I was very nearly put off when I was about 8, and rescued my mother. I'd been doing badly at maths. I'd been put down into one of the lower groups and I was getting bored. Then a friend of mine pushed me over in the playground and I broke my collar bone so I was stuck at home for five weeks. And my mother decided to stay at home and sort out my maths - so she got the text book and I had to dictate to her because my writing hand was broken. And after we'd done 400 problems, and I got 396 right she marched into the school saying there is nothing wrong with this child's maths - so they put me in the top group and I regained interest in the subject.
Professor Stewart's experience is not unique. In fact I also credit my mother's help as pivotal in helping my maths - I never got to Professor though!
What we parents can all take from this story is that we can help with maths, and make a big difference. Also not being great at maths at age 8 doesn't mean much in the bigger picture - and we should never give up.
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