Why it’s ok you don’t like maths

Recently I have realised that I don’t know why I like maths and electrical engineering!!

And probably you don’t know why you like whatever it is that you do.

I tested it out this morning on Mum: “what was your favourite subject at school? can you think of why you liked it?” “yes” “dammit! you were supposed to say no! what was it then?” “I liked the grammar” “ok, I’ll have to phrase the question differently next time.. but now that you’ve said that, why did you like grammar?” “I.. don’t know.”

If you go down enough layers, eventually you’ll hit a response of “I don’t know, I just like it” – I think that this is a feeling that everyone will have in some area of their life. Maybe that’s what everyone’s been referring to as passion. But it doesn’t have to be limited to one area – I, personally, like both maths and baking in the same “I just enjoy it!” way.. I am happy to spend an afternoon doing them, it makes time go quickly, and I just like it!!

I don’t think that we need to know why we like particular things.. maybe there is no reason, except that it’s what makes us unique. Which is good, it keeps us from all ending up doing the same thing as each other in life.

It took me a while to come to this realisation: I remember being confused about why if I love electrical engineering so much, why didn’t everyone? Why would anyone even do the others? In my mind it’s the best discipline, and so when I went to schools I would try to promote it as such. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit; of course I would explain the other disciplines to them so that they had a balanced perception (but my experiences I spoke of were obviously electrical-based), but secretly I would feel disappointed if they got interested in the other disciplines.

Because to me, the other engineering disciplines were second-rate. I wasn’t interested in them as much as electrical, and so I thought that it would be the same for everyone else: if they chose a different discipline, they’d just be ‘kinda happy’ as opposed to ‘in love’ – I must save them! But then I realised that there are civil engineers that are in love. And if I view their discipline which they love as second-rate, then there are probably going to be people out there that view mine in the same way! Moral of the story: I was very wrong – just because I see something as boring does not mean that there aren’t some who love it. Seems funny for it to take so long for me to realise when a good chunk of my time is spent answering to people ‘why on earth would you pick to study maths?’  But, when you’re in love…

We need to give students a tasting platter so that they can identify the thing that makes them happy ‘just because it does’ – it won’t be the same for everyone. Even if I think it should be otherwise!


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