My Teacher Story: Math as a Foreign Language?

My name is Franklina Danquah and I want to share a story about how my fear of Math disappeared with the help of someone I call a true teacher. This is my Teacher Story.

Growing up in Burma Camp, the barracks was my whole life. My school, my church, the hospital and every other place you can think of was in the barracks. This was the life I was used to but I always desired a change. So when it was time for me to pick a secondary school, I knew I would definitely pick one outside Accra. Okuapeman School (OKUAS) was my home away from home between 2003 and 2006 and  the place I met the one person who simplified Math for me – Mr. Odzeyem! Aka Sir Erikus! I’ll tell you more about him soon.

For me, Math seemed like a whole different language, totally out of my world, something foreign just like Chinese. I never moved close to anything Math unless it was a requirement. In basic school, Math class was okay but during exams, the questions on the paper seemed like gibberish to me. In OKUAS, I stuck to General Arts subjects like Government, Economics, History and Geography. Government was my favorite, I had always wanted to be a lawyer and learning about the functions of the three arms of government was really interesting. But Math! It haunted me and I had to study core Mathematics with Mr. Odzeyem.

My first term in that class did not end so well. I didn’t even make the pass mark of 50 and received some painful lashes. In the second term, something changed. I can’t explain it, but I know something changed. I began to understand the Math topics I didn’t even get right from primary school. Mr. Odzeyem had decided to teach his core Math class from scratch and he did not even care if there were Elective Math students among us. We gradually started to understand Math so much that we began to question our choice subjects like History, which I had picked as a substitute to Elective Maths because of my fear for Maths

In the Core Math class, we used different methods. Mr. Odzeyem would always repeat his explanations and break them down to the simplest bits. Then if that didn’t work, he used the peer-to-peer method, where one of my friends would take over the class to explain concepts. It worked like magic for me. The extra classes he organized on weekends  were an add-on too. After one of these sessions in his home, we huddled together as a class to watch a movie. It felt like a luxury. We were in boarding school and we had not watched TV in months!

Mr. Odzeyem made it a point to know his students and to look out for us.  I think teachers need to do this more often. It isn’t just about how to solve a math question, or how to speak or write English, but students should know how to interact with people and should be guided with the choices they are making. Teachers need to care for the students, pay attention to their areas of strength and weaknesses and based on that, they can advise what a child should do. Teaching is a profound task, so whenever you find yourself as a teacher, formally or informally, do so knowing that you’re influencing someone. Be a good example!

Mr. Odzeyem was an all-round teacher that is why he stands out as my best. He taught me not to be afraid and that every problem we face always has solutions. We often speak to him on the phone, but a few of us visited him when we went to a former classmates’ s wedding in Akropong last year.  It was so surreal! 

Mr. Odzeyem, I want to tell you that we appreciate you. You’re amazing. You changed my whole perspective about life and a subject I hated. I ended up in the marketing field and till today, your Math and life lessons are still with me. I am glad I went to OKUAS, I am glad you were my Math teacher and I appreciate the impact you had and continue to have in my life. Sir Erikus, the whole Arts 2 class of  2006 year group is grateful and we want you to know that we will always be here for you! 

Franklina is an old student of Okuapeman School (OKUAS), a member of the 2006 graduating class. Did you attend OKUAS too? Was Sir Erikus your Math teacher? Share this article to your former classmates and tell us more about Sir Erikus in the comments section.

What is your Teacher Story? Do you have a teacher who made a huge impact in your life? We would like to celebrate him/her. Reach out to us on Whatsapp 

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