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
    Jan 23

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

  • Adanna
    Jan 23
    Jan 23

    Dear Wendy,

    Thank you so much!

    Love,

    Adanna

  • Jan 23
    Jan 23

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

    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
    Jan 24

    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
    Jan 24

    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
    Jan 25

    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
    Jan 25

    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
    Jan 26

    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
    Jan 27

    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
    Jan 27

    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
    Jan 28

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

  • Adanna
    Jan 29
    Jan 29

    Dear Maeann,

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

    Love,

    Adanna

  • diallo
    Jan 29
    Jan 29

    Nice write-up very inspiring letter

  • Adanna
    Jan 29
    Jan 29

    Thank you Diallo!

    Love,

    Adanna

  • Sophie Ngassa
    Jan 29
    Jan 29

    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
    Jan 30

    Thank you so much sis!

  • Davar Ardalan
    Jan 30
    Jan 30

    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
    Jan 30

    Thank you Davar!

    Love,

    Adanna

  • Immaculate Amoit
    Jan 31
    Jan 31

    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
    Jan 31

    My lovely sis, thank you so much!

    Love,

    Adanna

  • Tumanjong Miranda
    Feb 04
    Feb 04

    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
    Feb 05

    Dear Tumanjong,

    Thank you so much!

    I hope so too :)

    Love,

    Adanna

  • Obisakin Busayo
    Feb 18
    Feb 18

    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
    Feb 19

    Thank you so much big sister!

    Love,

    Adanna

  • sridevi k
    Mar 03
    Mar 03

    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
    Mar 04

    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

    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
    Mar 06

    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
    Mar 06

    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
    Mar 07

    Dear Vivian,

    Thank you. I do appreciate your kind words.

    Love,
    Adanna

  • Evelyn Fonkem
    Mar 06
    Mar 06

    Wonderful piece great job sister

  • Adanna
    Mar 07
    Mar 07

    Thank you sister.

    Much love,
    Adanna

  • EllenWingard
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    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
    Mar 08

    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
    Mar 08

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

  • Adanna
    Mar 08
    Mar 08

    Thank you Tobechi.

  • 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
    Mar 08

    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
    Mar 12

    Adanna,

    Math and the experience.

    That's wonderful

    Thank you for the share.

    Lily

  • Adanna
    Mar 13
    Mar 13

    Thank you Lily.

    Love,
    Adanna

  • carolepng
    Mar 21
    Mar 21

    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
    Mar 22

    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
    Mar 27

    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
    Mar 27

    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
    Mar 27

    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
    Mar 27

    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
    Apr 08

    Dear Adanna,

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

    Awesome. I must say

  • Adanna
    Apr 09
    Apr 09

    Dear Tola,

    Thank you so much.

    Please do.

    Love,
    Adanna