Math Blame – Taking responsibility for learning

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that, is making you unhappy.” – Wayne Dyer

I should have been required to recite and analyze Mr. Dyer’s quote many years ago in high school and college. I was a model student, involved in: student counsel, extra-curricular activates, and excelled academically. I even worked diligently to the point of attending two schools my Junior and Senior years. I would wake early, be at school by 7:30, take classes through lunch so I could finish up my academics, and then catch a bus to Arts High, finishing around 5:00 in the evening. I loved it, and I worked hard, but, in one area–Math.

I blamed my lackadaisical math skills on my teacher, Mr. Y. He was an older teacher without personality, and we immediately clashed upon meeting. There were days he would meet me in the hallway before class would start and say, “Not today”. Fine with me, I would casually make my way to the principal’s office, where I would get some work done and no one challenged me or called me on it. Like I said, I was a model student, continued to receive A’s and B’s in all my classes in both schools, but fail math. I knew this particular teacher had a reputation for “giving” bad grades to students. So, I felt completely entitled to my blame. It was his fault I was so frustrated and flailing.

I believe the blame game is a way of life for many students and people in general, pointing their fingers at others for their personal flaws, inadequacies, and circumstances. Why bother accepting responsibility for what effects you directly; hmmm—because– it effects you directly, and typically no one else. Other times, like in my case, we can be oblivious to our blaming behavior because we feel overwhelmingly, justified in our judgment. If blame is not acknowledged and dealt with quickly, then a hard to break habit can spread across every aspect of one’s life, avoiding responsibility altogether. We can become stunted and have a horrible feeling that others control our life. This of course is an illusion. We, and only ourselves, have the ability to make choices that control the outcome of our lives.

The truth was, I didn’t like math, and it didn’t come easy to me, so, I dismissed it completely. I was doing fine in everything else. If I was slacking in math, and had a perfect scapegoat to take the fall for my arithmetic agitations, so be it.

Even in later years, I would tell people of the horrible math teacher I had, and that was the reason I didn’t understand logic problems. Ironically, I struggled years before and years after Mr. Y’s classes. Were all those teachers to blame also for my frustration and poor grades? I just refused to accept any responsibility for my learning, and in hind-sight, I know I could have put forth some effort. I never went for extra help, even though teachers were always available. Other things, places and people were more important. And, I would at times blame myself – “I just can’t get it” or better said, quit on myself.

My high school was really small, and Mr. Y knew what I was capable of. I think he was in the right for kicking me out, because I had no intention of even trying to learn Algebra II, which I had to take twice. If I was wise, I should have put forth the effort the first year, so I would not have to endure the second year too. But, I was too busying quitting and blaming to understand simple algebraic concepts.

These days, I am inspired by the children running through my house asking their father for math problems. I married a man who majored in chemistry and, yes- math. The boys are excited to get “hard” problems, and work through those challenges. Knowing my personal struggle in this area, daddy makes sure I am in the game too.

Mr. Y, I owe you a huge apology for carrying the burden of my responsibility all these years. I’m not sure if you were a good teacher or not, but it was my responsibility to at least try and learn.

Is it time for you to apologize to someone for carrying your burdens? Be accountable to yourself and for yourself.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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