I saw Winnie Cooper interviewed the other day — I mean Danica McKeller who played Winnie on The Wonder Years. She was a character in the show who was unapoligetically smart. She loves acting and she loves math. She continues to this day to do both and seems joyful that at a young age she accepted both sides of her brain.
She explained that she learned early on that acting could be unreliable as a career and decided that she would develop her math career as fervently as her acting. We are all lucky that she did.
She has used her love of math to study and create a series of math books that could change a child’s life when told that math is not their strong point. I was one of those kids. Unfortunately, I got excused from pushing myself as a girl in the 1970’s. I used the age old excuse “when will I use this math anyway?” I went on to limit my math exposure and therefore, I believe my brain growth. I always shied away from solving problems, I just learned to get along.
There came a day though in my thirties when I longed for more challenges in my life. I enrolled in college and my first roadblock was math. In order to get my degree, math was a required subject. I tested and was enrolled in a prerequisite to the math that would give me credits. An entire summer of catch up — three weeks, 5 hours a day. I was not enthusiastic to say the least, but I stuck with it. I began to thaw my rigid mindset that I was not good at math. Once I opened the door to that thought, I started understanding how to solve problems. I credit that course, that did not count toward my degree, as my confidence turning point.
I found my love of math through keeping financial records for individuals, businesses and myself. I gravitated toward numbers and find that when they are put together in monthly reports can tell a story that words cannot. Most people shy away from knowing their financial standing and guess at what their level of security is. I help them not be afraid of it, I stand in the way of worry. I create a safe environment to learn how to plan for the future. I love helping people lose their guesswork and give them facts.
Danica had it right from a very early age. She now authors amazing books and I have bought two of them “Do Not Open This Math Book” and “The Times Machine.” In addition to my fascination with monthly income and expenses, I now help students learn math in special education. I have a new frontier, how students learn and to accept that everyone learns differently. Confidence is the essential building block to the open door to never again being told you are not good at something. I kept challenging myself and even though it took me a bit longer to obtain my bachelor degree, I pushed hard to break the stereotype that I was too old to conquer new things.