During my first fortnight on the Access to HE Diploma – Nursing, Midwifery and Health Studies programme I experienced my first maths lesson in eight years. My class and I were introduced to our teacher and given a brief introduction to the subject; the teacher discussed several different types of numbers: squared numbers, cubed numbers, triangle numbers, integers, multiples and prime numbers.
Throughout the lesson I struggled to understand what the teacher was trying to explain, as slides were shown on the board my head began to spin. The carefully structured rows of numbers and complicated sets of sums appeared to me as a messy tangle of digits. Wondering if I was the only one having difficulty I scanned the room to see some of my fellow classmates were furiously scribbling down notes, some seemed more relaxed and were sitting back in their chairs nodding along, offering the teacher answers when prompted.
When the lesson ended I walked to the teacher’s desk and told her how difficult I had found it to understand any of what had just been explained, I was given a few hand-outs to practice on and told to use the Moodle or Skills Centre support if any further help was needed.
Upon reflection I can see that my feelings about this situation are a reasonable response, considering I have not studied any mathematics in the past eight years and taking into account how difficult I found maths to be during my school days. In general I feel sad and confused about this situation; I understand that numeracy is not an academic strength of mine, however I feel as though I am struggling more than is necessary considering how easy the subject seems to be to the vast majority of my classmates.
I am additionally awfully scared of not catching up with the work and therefore not completing my assignments adequately thus leaving myself with bad marks and risking the chance of not passing the course and ultimately not being able to achieve my goal of being accepted onto a nursing degree course. I did nevertheless find my teacher and fellow students’ reactions to my fears to be constructive, I have been reassured that I am not alone in feeling like this and that my weakness in the subject is something that could be easily overcome with some support and practice.
Although my fear of the subject is still very much in the forefront of my mind, I am finding myself feeling more positive about overriding this challenge, improving my numeracy skills and finally completing a maths GCSE. In hindsight I can see that if I were to of broken down the information given to me more slowly, taken the most important part of what was being taught and jotted down some useful notes for future independent studying the subject may not have seemed to be so daunting.
I have since ordered a maths GCSE level textbook, with this I have been able to study in more manageable twenty minute sessions, concentrating on what the teacher has already discussed with us in class, as well as checking on Moodle what will be featured in future classes and giving myself a slight head start on getting my head around the particular subject. All being well with my studies I ought to be able to obtain a pass at the subject, of course a merit or distinction would be a bonus.
In the future I will make sure I understand all of the subject before continuing onto the next, I will not be afraid to voice my concerns in the classroom as I know none of my fellow class mates will see this as funny, silly or stupid and that my teacher will be happy to help out with my extra needs as will the support assistants and tutoring services available at the Skill Centre. Overall maths does not seem quite so daunting to me anymore, instead it has turned into an academic mission that I cannot wait to complete.