Sunday, January 02, 2011

Aptitude

We all seem to have it for certain things and lack it for others. Like I did for color. I had this huge aptitude for color. Actually color and words - and lacked it for spelling. Actually, spelling and numbers ( more for numbers). Right from my first grade, I knew my problem area. I seldom attended the Math class - mentally that is - and the few times I attended it, I didn't make heads or tails out of it. I hard wired my brain to refuse all data involving numbers so it was the biggest academic ordeal to by heart the multiplication tables and even till date, I take the aid of a calculator to do simple arithmetic. I spent the better part of my life hating numbers and proudly proclaiming to be a math atheist but when I look back now, I feel that it was just a mental trick I played on myself due to lack of understanding for the subject. There came a time in my academics when I couldn't afford to not like numbers and it is then that I kind of developed an aptitude for them only to shun them for ever after a deviation in my undergrad to language and literature.
Now I see a "mini me" in the making. My little daughter. She can sit and color and paint and write the alphabet and sing and dance for ever - but when asked to write the numbers, she doesn't refuse to learn but never really learns them the way they are supposed to be learned. "But I want to be an artist" she'd announce and whine and sulk till I let her get away without writing the numbers for me. Determined to make her develop an aptitude for numbers, I employed the logical half of the marriage to teach the kiddo some numbers - it resulted into a "Indian parliament in session" kind of scenario in the household for the past so many days. I see an otherwise cool dad rising his voice and an otherwise peace-loving child getting into wild argument and name calling. Helplessly, I intertwine and give the little lady and ultimatum that if she doesn't learn it form me, I'll look for places that she'd learn it from (read boarding schools)
I still am not successful to make her love numbers as yet, but it is a public promise that I shall - very soon! So all this drama gets me to think - Is there really something called aptitude, or is it just a pretty mask to disguise the laziness to learn things that need more than a quick scanning?? The answer is pretty simple if one ponders about it - just like we blame our mood on things we don't want to do/not do - we do take the pretext of aptitude as well. I once told a very intelligent friend of mine (who happens to be an Ivy league grad and Fellow in technology - that I am technically challenged and I don't really care for it) all this, during an internet chat! He was quick to bite back - "how can you use a medium so fondly and not like it?" he asked! "Liking something is all about making an attempt to know it for what it is" - I hold on to these words like a talisman, and the more I thought about what he said, the more similarities I found in prose, poetry, technology and numbers. writing a computer program is like writing a classic piece of poetry and solving a math problem is like creating characters in a novel - all these acts require brains and creativity. Come to think of it in a "knowing something before loving it perspective - how could I have loved the person I married if I had not made an attempt to know him in the first place? Right?? - Right! - so does aptitude really exist? May be it does - and so does determination, concentration, grit and conviction. I might never enjoy numbers as much as I do words, but that need not be a reason for being ignorant about numbers - so I'd say, inclination should rule over aptitude. It is said that we use only a minuscule part of our brain - may be we can increase the usage a wee bit more and we might not really have anything that we'd not enjoy. And the' girl things' and 'boy things' we divide tasks into is also a hopeless stigma - that is probably the reason why I love women who can repair a computer and men who can make yummy food.
I look back and regret why I didn't love numbers, and why I didn't pay heed to my intensely mathematical sister when she chased me around to teach me exponents. I'd have had a beautiful relationship with them and solving number problems would have probably taught me a thing or two about life itself - as a compensation I promise myself - I'll not let my daughter be a slave of aptitude. She'll know all and do what she loves the most - even if it means that I need to pop in a Tylenol for that stress induced headache to argue with a logic-less toddler over logical numbers. It's all in the game of parenting, living, making mistakes and learning!

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:33 AM

    I wonder if loving something before knowing is in our blood. Do we really love our wives/husbands or do we love the "position" long before it is filled and regardless of who fills it. And just carry over the love to the position/title/comfort of marriage to the contestants if she/he is lucky.

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  2. Thanks for taking the time to read this cr@p!:-) It is a great boost to know that I am not talking to myself.

    BTW I did not get this comment. So did you say we don't know how to love before we know OR we love before we know ?

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  3. As always,i like the way put it in words.I totally believe in this 'only in head' thing. I myself went trough this :D
    I always wanted to be a pilot but due to some reasons my family pushed me to engineering and believe me I didn't even know the spelling of engineering at that time :-) lol
    I got into the college and my biggest nightmares maths and thermodynamics came to haunt me.
    I decided to change my views about them and I started to say 'I Love You' to these subject books and I would say I Like Them :)
    It was funny but that worked well and that to an extent that I will be finishing my engineering soon with good grades.

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  4. Also,once during a motivational lecture at college the speaker shared a story with us.The story was about a mother teaching maths to her kid.
    From the very beginning the mother kept saying to the kid that 'Maths Is A Game,Maths Is A Game'.She kept repeating it most of the time.Whenever it was time to do maths the mother would take the kid in the garden and bring balls and toys along.She would then ask the child to to catch the balls and keep counting.This was done to teach him addition.The kid would through them back and this was used for subtraction.Building blocks were put to use multiplication.This way the boy kept playing and doing maths simultaneously :)
    The boy grew up thinking Maths Is A Game and could do hardest of the problems even while watching television.

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