So, I was applying for a job the other week (long story), and on dredging my mind in order to list my qualifications, was reminded of my ignominious lack of achievement in mathematics: I left school secured of a deeply underwhelming CSE grade 3. (I did take also take an O level but as my result for this was a U – unclassified, or #epicfail, to use the modern vernacular – I assumed the sensible thing would be to leave it off the list altogether.)
If you want to know the truth about how I cocked up quite so spectacularly, I’m afraid I don’t know. Maths has always equalled utter tedium to me. I also suspect I was a teen who was hell-bent generally on underachieving, in order to truly piss off all those around me who expected otherwise.
But anyhoo, it’s never really mattered much before. In my previous jobs, all I had to prove was that I could string a sentence together. No-one ever demanded I make the numbers add up. And I’ve been my own boss for the last eleven years, continuing to scribble for a living. So apart from whilst tackling the tortuous annual completion of my tax return, I have not been troubled at all by a need for numeracy.
I feel a bit ashamed about it now, though. When I ‘fessed up on Facebook as to my numbskullery, there was some shaking of heads and a negative hum which left me wondering if this long-buried lack of maths mastery might really stand against me in a cluttered and competitive jobs market.
So I made a Sensible Decision. (And you’ve got to give me credit for this readers, because I’m not usually one for Sensible Decisions.) I popped along to see the nice adult learning lady at my local library and she signed me up, there and then, for a free part-time course which I’m told could earn me a qualification that’s equivalent to a GCSE. And you know what? She made me take an assessment and I got 23 out of 25, putting me straight in at level 2 and at an advantage from the start, apparently. Woop.
All of which is how I came to be clutching my oversized calculator, an empty file, and a One Direction pencil case*, and psyching myself up for the first of 15 two-and-a-half hour Tuesday night maths lessons. (Making a total of…um, um….well, let’s call it quite a lot of hours of maths altogether.)
Naturally the Misses P think it’s all very funny and have been feverishly setting me tasks in adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing all weekend. By the way, did you know that all these things are done in a completely different way nowadays, with mysterious working-out aids known as column methods and number lines and ‘I Know’ boxes? I have now been instructed in ‘the new ways’ and let’s just say that I would NEVER have got an ungraded O level if I had known about them earlier. Possibly.
Wish me luck, anyway. I’m going to need it.
*Not actually true. I don’t really have a One Direction pencil case.