Featured Storyteller

NIGERIA: My Letter to Mathematics

Adanna
Posted January 23, 2018 from Nigeria
Photo courtesy of InspireIT

STEM activist Adannawrites a letter to the subject she feared most in school.

“In hindsight, I wish I knew what I know now about your importance and your value.

Dear Math,

I wish I knew the truth about you before I met you. You are an interesting subject, unique in your own way, and very special.

Growing up, I heard stories about you. I had people tell me you were difficult, while others told me you were wonderful—if only I would get to know you better.

My younger self tried to fall in love with you, but it seemed the more I tried the more you put up barriers to stop me. Maybe those barriers were all in my head, just maybe.

My dear Math, many young girls dread your presence, as I did. Some have been told right from childhood that you are too difficult to handle, and this has made them run away from you. Those who gave you a chance and understood you early are glad they did.

The older I grew, the more I made extra effort to love you and understand you better. I have to admit that it was not easy for me though, as it is not easy for many girls to navigate math in school.

In primary schools, girls and boys sit down quietly to listen to your stories. They have dreams of becoming engineers, computer scientists, astronauts, pilots, writers, architects, scientists, pharmacists, doctors, and teachers.

In secondary schools, most of the boys are willing to confront you, while some of the girls do not want to be too forward in approaching you. Some of the girls silently back down.

In universities, your presence is always known.When I was seeking admission to a postgraduate course, I received an email that said, “Mathematics must be among the five subjects you passed in your school certificate examination before you can be admitted”. No matter how much I pretend not to notice, I cannot deny your influence in my life everywhere I go.

Even those who hate you cannot deny the fact that you are very important. Many groundbreaking discoveries that we celebrate today were made possible because of you, and you have changed the lives of many.

You have unlocked many mysteries and have contributed immensely to some of the most amazing discoveries in the story of mankind.

Math, I want more young girls to be on your friends list. I want them to understand you better and build a better relationship with you. You have a great role to play in their future. I do not want young girls to think you are too difficult to understand. I know you mean well, and I want them to know that, too.

In hindsight, I wish I knew what I know now about your importance and your value. I would tell my younger self to be more open to you, and to not to be ashamed to ask questions and to seek out a mentor.

To all young girls, I say, “Do not let fear of failure, excuses, what others think, or procrastination hinder you from learning maths.”

I have a vision where all youth, and especially young girls, understand your ways and embrace you as their friend.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller!Learn more.

How to Get Involved

Adanna is the founder of InspireIT, a free global mentoring program for young girls and women interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. You can follow InspireIT on Facebook and Twitter. To connect directly with Adanna, leave a comment or send her a message on World Pulse.

Comments 49

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Wendy Stebbins
Jan 23, 2018
Jan 23, 2018

What you do as well as your words are so inspiring and life changing. Keep up the great work.

Adanna
Jan 23, 2018
Jan 23, 2018

Dear Wendy,

Thank you so much!

Love,

Adanna

Jan 23, 2018
Jan 23, 2018
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
Tamarack Verrall
Jan 24, 2018
Jan 24, 2018

Dear Adanna,

What a beautifully written and inspiring letter. You have made math friendly, and I hope thousands of girls get to read this in time to dive into maths and sciences. I remember being told that math and physics are for boys. Yesterday here in Canada it was announced that all high schools will offer coding. Change happens because of leaders like you.

In sisterhood,

Tam

Adanna
Jan 24, 2018
Jan 24, 2018

Dear Tam,

Thank you so much!

Your kind words and support always inspire me to continue to do more.

I am happy to know that all high schools in Canada will offer coding, this is good news!

Love,

Adanna

Olutosin
Jan 24, 2018
Jan 24, 2018

My sister eh eh eh My second daughter Divine said that Mathematics is like forcing her to eat cockroaches. I told her that it was like someone fires maggots into my throat. I need to photocopy your letter and post it to Mathematics.

Thanks my sister for this letter.

Adanna
Jan 25, 2018
Jan 25, 2018

My big sis, I was smiling while reading this.

Please photocopy it and send to Mathematics asap :)

My regards to Divine!

Love,

Adanna

sharann
Jan 25, 2018
Jan 25, 2018

Adanna,

I love your letter.  A good way to make friends with a challenging subject.  I like to think of mathematics as a language of symbols that shows the relationships between real things and helps us to understand and predict the physical world.  When I taught my children mathematics we always used real things like cooking or money.  When I went to high school I was one of the only girls in the advanced mathematics class.  Girls need to make friends with this subject.  Thank you for helping to change that!

Adanna
Jan 26, 2018
Jan 26, 2018

Dear Sharann,

Thank you so much!  I love the way you talk about mathematics, you make it sound so sweet :)

I think one of the ways teachers/tutors can make mathematics more interesting is by teaching it using real things like you did.

Love,

Adanna

Rachana Singh
Jan 27, 2018
Jan 27, 2018

Dear Adanna

Brilliantly put together story. Mathematics and Physics are considered the subjects for boys as they are to become engineers, computer programmers, pharmacists and in other respective technical fields. Bio and Home science and nursing were the streams girls were mostly allowed to take admissions into during my time. Naturally I too was horrified at the look and language of math which was beyond my understanding. After grade 8th when I was in the process of choosing the subjects, my parents made the decision for me Bio science cause Maths might took more of the study hours as well extra guidance in the form of tutorials mean spending extra amount. Education is a big big business and a real profitable sector in my country. Teachers teach better in the coaching institute rather school. During my times a math teacher most of the time being a male was also an issue forcing girls to shun the subject. 

My another encounter with math as a paper happened at the post-graduate level when I fought tooth and nail to clear the Differential and Logarithm paper along with Chemistry to earn my degree.

Studying mathematics needs a different approach altogether. Logic and reasoning, problem solving skills and a make or break kind set of rules and challenge which normally are not the tools prefered to be given to girls. Stereotypes but the times are changing and the people too.

Just as I read the title of your story, my curiosity made me read it thoroughly and also to write about my experience with the subject. 

Congratulate you and 

Sending you love. 

Adanna
Jan 27, 2018
Jan 27, 2018

Dear Rachana,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience!

You made very important points which cannot be ignored if we want more girls to embrace mathematics.

Times are changing indeed and I do hope more girls will embrace mathematics.

Love,

Adanna

mae me
Jan 28, 2018
Jan 28, 2018

math you are always be my challenge thanks for inspiring :) 

Adanna
Jan 29, 2018
Jan 29, 2018

Dear Maeann,

Thank you! I hope math becomes your best friend soon :)

Love,

Adanna

diallo
Jan 29, 2018
Jan 29, 2018

Nice write-up very inspiring letter

Adanna
Jan 29, 2018
Jan 29, 2018

Thank you Diallo!

Love,

Adanna

Sophie Ngassa
Jan 29, 2018
Jan 29, 2018

Dear Adanna, your latter says it all. we will keep on writing to math until we have  favorable response.Congrats again for your the work you do for our girls.

Adanna
Jan 30, 2018
Jan 30, 2018

Thank you so much sis!

Davar Ardalan
Jan 30, 2018
Jan 30, 2018

Thank you Adanna for your thoughtful letter and advice. You are so right - fear of failure can't keep you from learning math and pursuing STEM fields. 

Adanna
Jan 30, 2018
Jan 30, 2018

Thank you Davar!

Love,

Adanna

Immaculate Amoit
Jan 31, 2018
Jan 31, 2018

I am so proud of what you are doing sis, your letter describes exactly how I felt about mathematics sadly for me I fear mathematics to date, the generation behind us changes its attitude towards maths and take what pertains to maths and science head on thanks to your Inspire IT initiative.

Much love

Adanna
Jan 31, 2018
Jan 31, 2018

My lovely sis, thank you so much!

Love,

Adanna

Tumanjong Miranda
Feb 04, 2018
Feb 04, 2018

Hi Adanna,

Thank you for this eye opener for young girls and women. Your letter to math has said it all. Hope many more girls get inspired to work in STEM, especially math. Thanks a million.

Kuddos!

Adanna
Feb 05, 2018
Feb 05, 2018

Dear Tumanjong,

Thank you so much!

I hope so too :)

Love,

Adanna

Obisakin Busayo
Feb 18, 2018
Feb 18, 2018

So inspiring letter! I am sure this is going to inspire many girls to venture into STEM!

Well done my Sister!

Love

Busayo

Adanna
Feb 19, 2018
Feb 19, 2018

Thank you so much big sister!

Love,

Adanna

sridevi k
Mar 03, 2018
Mar 03, 2018

Dear Adanna

Nice write up on Maths, Yeah many students fear this subject, Repeated practice and concentration can help grasping this subject, In fact its very interesting Students can jot all the important points and make short notes in a book and keep revising it every now and then. Everyday learning helps, rather than waiting for the last minute before the exam. Keep practicing repeatedly All students are bound to do well.

Regards

Sridevii

Adanna
Mar 04, 2018
Mar 04, 2018

Dear Sridevii,

Thank you! I do agree that repeated practice and concentration will help a lot of students in understanding mathematics.

Love,

Adanna

francisca okwulehie
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

This is a brilliant piece. I believe it would inspire our girls too. Though i cannot deny I feared and still fear mathematics till date. Wonderful letter!

Adanna
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Dear Francisca,

Thank you!

We need to " catch them young" and having good background in mathematics is very important in preparing young girls for future careers in STEM.

Love,

Adanna

Vivian Emesowum
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Wonderful poetic piece on Math for growing up kids and teens. Keep on with your project, you never know which life it will touch most

Adanna
Mar 07, 2018
Mar 07, 2018

Dear Vivian,

Thank you. I do appreciate your kind words.

Love,
Adanna

Evelyn Fonkem
Mar 06, 2018
Mar 06, 2018

Wonderful piece great job sister

Adanna
Mar 07, 2018
Mar 07, 2018

Thank you sister.

Much love,
Adanna

EllenWingard
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Dear Adanna, This is absolutely brilliant! I work with so many women leaders who befriended math in spite of lack of encouragement or support. They look back and see that this was the differentiator for critical thinking and mastery that has led to breakthroughs for themselves, patients they treat, analytical leaders creating game changing solutions. Thank you for your wisdom and I hope to share with so many!
Warmly, Ellen

Adanna
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Dear Ellen,

Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement!

I hope that more young girls will understand the relationship between mathematics and critical thinking.

Love,
Adanna

tobechi
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

i love this. it took me back to my school days

Adanna
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Thank you Tobechi.

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Hello, Adana,

I also once wrote a letter to Math during my freshman year where I took BS Applied Mathematics. I was advised to take it as opposed to my first love, Creative Writing, because it will get me employed.

Long story short, I finished BS Community Development instead.Haha. I could not force myself to really love Math, but the experience made me appreciate it.

Thank you for such a lovely letter to the most misunderstood subject.

Adanna
Mar 08, 2018
Mar 08, 2018

Dear Karen,

Thank you for sharing your experience with mathematics.

I understand the struggle sometimes to love mathematics but I'm glad your experience made you appreciate it.

Love,
Adanna

Lily Habesha
Mar 12, 2018
Mar 12, 2018

Adanna,

Math and the experience.

That's wonderful

Thank you for the share.

Lily

Adanna
Mar 13, 2018
Mar 13, 2018

Thank you Lily.

Love,
Adanna

carolepng
Mar 21, 2018
Mar 21, 2018

I love this piece! Maths and I have or 'had' been the best of buddies - until Engineering Maths came along in Uni -- but now my soon to be 16year old daughter is following in the same path of building this long lasting relationship with Math :) I have to get her to read this piece! Thank you for sharing!

Adanna
Mar 22, 2018
Mar 22, 2018

Dear Carole,

Thank you so much! Good to hear from you.

I am happy your daughter is friends with mathematics already and is building a long lasting relationship with mathematics :)

Hugs :)

Love,
Adanna

ARREY - ECHI
Mar 27, 2018
Mar 27, 2018

A beautiful letter to Maths. I agree the mysticism alot of people placed around Maths discouraged alot of us girls to dare. As you say, only later in life that most of us come to see it's significance.

Adanna
Mar 27, 2018
Mar 27, 2018

Dear Arrey-Echi,

Thank you!

I really want more girls to recognise it's significance early rather than much later in life.

Love,
Adanna

Teetee
Mar 27, 2018
Mar 27, 2018

Dear Adanna,
Well done with your work with young girls. I tried to access the site but it wouldn't come up. I would like to be a part of it. I identify with people who struggle with mathematics, although i have loved maths from the womb and numbers are my best friend, i would like to help young girls interested in STEM. Do let me know how i can be a part of it.

Adanna
Mar 27, 2018
Mar 27, 2018

Dear Teetee,

Thank you so much.

Please check your inbox to know how you can be part of it.

Love,
Adanna

Tola Makinde
Apr 08, 2018
Apr 08, 2018

Dear Adanna,

Thank you for sharing. I need to share this with my son.

Awesome. I must say

Adanna
Apr 09, 2018
Apr 09, 2018

Dear Tola,

Thank you so much.

Please do.

Love,
Adanna