Thursday, November 18, 2010

Maths Teachers- A History

The world can be divided into two castes. Those who love Maths, and those who hate it. Unfortunately for me, my dad and me were on different sides. My dad once said "you can never escape maths. It will exist all through your life." My first reaction in my mind was, "God, how can this be true? Life cannot be so unfair"

My tryst with Maths as far as my memory can take me was in 2nd std in a freshly set up "CBSE English medium" school beyond the sugar factory in my humble town. The maths teacher was a mallu. Their literacy rates helped the influx of mallus into the teaching profession, irrespective of their capability to teach. Goofy would be ashamed of his teeth if he sees this guy. He always came with a stick made from coconut branch. If anyone had felt happy that he never used the stick, they were soon to discover this guy's third degree torture was to give a pinch in the inner thighs. Pedophile I must say. My knickers did no good. Given his 'YINGLISH-medium' I never understood what he said, never did my homework and never missed a class without his pinch. He sowed the seeds of antagonism for maths in me.

Given I started school at an earlier age, I had to study 2nd again in my first actual English medium school in Ooty. It was the best part of my schooling. But let me stick to Maths. Prema ma'am. I discovered how dumb I was when the whole class knew how to write a 'statement problem' while I mixed up the statements and the figures, courtesy earlier YINGLISH medium schooling. Somehow managed maths.

My 3rd std class teacher, was again Prema ma'am. It didn't help that her sister, Saroja ma'am was my class teacher. Saroja ma'am broke innumerable wooden rulers on my shin for my handwriting in her science class. Lucky a guy called Vikas Aggarwal was a distraction enough for Prema ma'am to give all her attention to. I barely scraped through. I also won a 'handwriting prize' in my 3rd std. Saroja ma'am maintained a blissful silence about it.

The prettiest teacher I had. Shruti ma'am. Every guy in the class had a crush on her, some were open, some against, the latter I guess, only pretending to be. I don't remember getting beaten much. But she taught me how to see time on an analog clock which was one of the chapters. What a time! :)

I got 23 out of 25 because I forgot 6x4=24 in a division problem. My highest maths percentage ever.

My dad somehow managed to lay his hands on the maths text book for my next year every vacation. He belonged to the likes of the dad in Tare Zameen Par. 'Maths is the secret of success' seemed to be his motto of life. And he was intent to make it mine too. He called on to his indebted colleague to ruin my vacations with maths tuitions every time I went home. If my mallu teacher sowed the seeds, my dad put extra powerful fertilizers for my antagonism for maths.

Back in school with the belief that I had already covered half the syllabus, I blissfully stared at nothing in the class. Jayarathi ma'am made the best of it. Her Sri Lankan hands were as powerful as Sanath Jayasuriya's bat.

Another Sri Lankan as my maths teacher. Manorathi ma'am. Dreaded batsmen. Black and blue are not enough colors to describe her thrashing. A combination of Jayasuriya, Ranatunga, Brian Lara. We also had Roy aunty. All she cared was whether the 3 students in the class were with her. Ritesh Aggarwal, Nagaraju and Marcello. The other odd 35 students were....well, "The Others".... No offense to these guys. We were in 7th std. Not their fault.

If there was ever a time I loved maths. It was my 8th std. All because of Prusty sir. Till 7th, my highest marks were in Hindi and lowest in Maths. In 8th std, it was reversed. Maths was at my fingertips. I got 89. My dad seemed to have forgotten the 'any gift I wanted' he would buy me if I scored 90 in maths at any time. Not even a mention. 89 is not 90, I consoled myself.

My romance with maths was thrown out of the window when my vice principal was the maths teacher. He entered the class looking out of the window at one end, and left the class looking out of the door. The only other thing he looked at in the middle was the blackboard. He sure needed a lesson on voice modulation. I looked at lot of dreams in those classes. Till today, I don't understand Logarithms. Thank god calculators were allowed in college.

Venkateswarlu Sir. He worked harder than me for Maths. His dedication was however not enough to fight the feelings I had for maths, courtesy my dad. But had it not been for him, dad would have thrust me into MPC to become an """engineer.""" I am sure I would have taken 5 years to complete the remaining 2 years of high school. I dedicate my School 2nd position in my 11th std first unit test to sir.

With the passing of 10th std, I never looked back. Maths was gone forever, at least in the form it was. What a relief.

Yes, I did face maths again in graduation. Calculus. Dr.Siva Kumar sir took the class. But my confidence was so high, I sat on Calculus' head. Slowly, Maths turned into finance and I turned into a financial wizard in college. Now I realize, you never escape maths. But God is still fair. Its not the same maths.

Throughout my entire childhood, my dad fed me with "YOU ARE POOR AT MATHS." That made all the difference. Unfortunately a difference that killed the confidence I had in myself.


  1. Hey ravikanth

    Nice memories .. had fun reading em.. u shud write more often :)

  2. hey ravi,

    your blogs tale me to my old days....... :)
    maths had been an dreadful subject for mee too..... i really disliked it at two stages-wen i was in 6th or 7th wen things like integers were introduced and i always used to get beatings from my mom for nt answering questions like 'which is the largest integer whose sum equals to the smallest integer blah blah blah............
    n den der was my uncles son who is sum 18yrs elder to me, staying with us, and the worst of all is a math geek..... wen ever i used to finish my math exam n cme home he used to be der waiting for me to arrive so that he can take the paper n start asking me answers to the questions in the paper....i really used to sweat answering him coz he never used to give straight answers bt instead mock me saying-this much u did nt knw- n der used to be my mom standing staring at me ........... tough time
    the next wen i hated maths was in my graduation 2yr.....though no sibling to torture me the maths itself was bad was abt analysis......i cud nvr understand it.........
    bt i miss those days........... life was strangely funny :)

  3. hi ravi

    i had a good laugh as i often do after reading your posts. It was nice remembering the old times. i remember my terror and utter distaste for two subjects at school - maths and chemistry.
    but well i still seem to have an affinity for finance despite maths being its basic logic :)

  4. hey anne...
    same here..maths n chemistry were my irritants!

  5. Dude good one, had good time reading it. I am sure, uncle will impose his math love on your kids. Let em too have some stories :-)


  6. Wow Ravi...such a small theme and you made it so good......yeh it is like History.......njoyed your blog a lot...keep posting

  7. Great stuff man !

    Sigh, for some unfortunate souls, maths is life right now :)