While the ‘Team Gold’ are waiting to go to school on November 8, I am sure the ‘Green’ boys and girls of track one are having a good time as first timers in their various Senior High / Technical Schools after they reported for school last week. Let me ask you: ‘Class, how many of you know George Orwell’s real name? I don’t know o but I am sure you would get to know a few weeks into secondary school life!You would learn more fromthe novel called Animal Farm! It introduces you to the fact that one plus one is not exactly two especially as far as dealing with human beings are concerned. It would also teach you lessons as regards how to cope with living with one another though some will by all means annoy you. You would notice that though we talk about ‘Fairness’, life has never been fair!If you are already poor, this is an opportunity to do well in school so you can change your cycle from your ancestral poverty. It all depends on YOU, not your parents and / or teachers o, yoo.
When I entered Motown in the early 90’s, I was a complete villager lookingvery sheepish wearing socks which were as long as the necks of daughters of Anak! The first tutor I met was Bokassa. He looked at me with an unwelcome smile as if to tell me to go back to the village. I later got to know he was the one going to teach me Elective Maths. Me? Elective Maths? Hmmm!I had paid part of my fees i.e. twenty thousand cedis (today’s 2 Ghana cedis) and left with a balance of eight hundred cedis (today’s 80 pesewas) as my school fees. Coming from Anunmle JSS, I found myself in the midst of very very rich and super intelligent classmates from Christ the King, Morning Star, University Primary, Achimota Primary, and all the elite basic schools one can think of. Their grammar?Eish!While they went like ‘excuse me, what did you just say?’,the reverse was the case by me fromcyto. I also went like: ‘ern, you say whort?’.Ao! Poverty, why whywhy? Education is the only weapon that equalizes, somehow; it is the only way one can sit in the same class with children of parents and guardians from all classes of society! I promised myself I would change my family story no matter what, and trust me, I did.
What excited me most was the fact that I had escaped narrowly from being a casket carpenter, a trade my dad wanted me to go and learn after JSS. I told myself even if I would be a casket maker at all, I needed secondary education first. I couldn’t blame him bcos he didn’t understand the essence of formal education. He didn’t understand what aggregate 6 from a BECE exam meant; all he understood was San 7!When you finish, go and learn carpentery!
Later after varsity, I got a part-time job as a Mathematics pupil teacher and I was to teach this rich man’s childrenafter my national service. Hmmmm. I worked for only two non-productive months and got fired. The man’s first child, Joseph Nkrumah failed kportorrrr and the second one was almost strangulated by the school’s headmaster for saying ‘parallelogram’ is a railway line in TarkwaNsuem. That was what I taught her for one day and she lost interest in attending my class. They were my neighboursat West Legon.
Having attended KNUST (Tek), the biggest mistake this man made was to assume that everyone who attendedTek was a ‘sharp-brain’ in Mathematics. Chai! The ego of a university graduate did not allow me to say NO. All I said was: ‘No Problem’! I wanted to prove to the man say indeed I go Tekampaso Maths no be problem at all. He didn’t know that ‘TekdeyTek inside’. I didn’t want to reject this job offer bcos I didn’t want the man to know that I was empty-headed in that department!
Nervously, with some fake confidence, I decided to teach this man’s son, a JSS 2 boyMaths to prepare for BECE. This boy ended up teaching me Mathsoo, ei!
I often would take the text book and ask him if he knew about ‘Aki Ola’ and the topic for that day would be on the Akiolaand how good he was and blab la blatill classes would end. Finish! Nothing new!May the soul of Prof Aki Ola rest in peace. You saved a lot of souls as far as Mathematics was concerned. He made Maths easy to pass.
In teaching this boy, I would pick a mathematical question to solve and it appeared my only specialty was in the topic‘Transformation’. Simple quadratic equations, even ‘Factorization’ and ‘Simplification’ were my biggest headache and unfortunately for me that was where my services were needed mostbcos the boy didn’t really have a problem with Transformation but still, my lesson notes were always about ‘Transformation’. Even when we were treating a separate topic, I would find a way to squeeze ‘Transformation’ into it.
As for the Pi R square, I made this boy sleep throughout the classes and believe me, that was good for me bcosI was convinced that if things didn’t go well in the exam, which was obviously going to be the case, I could blame it on the boy not being serious.
Anytime I set a question on the board, this boy would say the question is wrong and then go into slumber. On almost all occasions, I admitted or rather conceded that the question was indeed wrong without knowing what exactly was wrong even after he’s drawn my attention to it!
In correcting the question, I often got it wrong again and I would be sweating. That would immediately retire this boy into sleeping mode. I would be there talking to myself and praying for the lights to go off so I could close and go home and rest.
On one such occasion, this boy’s father, MrDadson, my employer came to stand to observe how his son was being ‘sharpened’ to ‘blow’Mathsso he could continue to do Physics at the university. The boy’s father would often go like:
‘Joe, I hope you are picking up very fast. You are so lucky to have this man as your Maths tutor. I have heard so much about MrMawuli and how he used to top the Petroleum Engineering Class at Tek with first class’. I don’t know where he got that erroneous information about me from.(Ei!Me? Do Engineering? With what IQ in Maths? This should have been the impression for the likes of engineers KwesiNkansah and Daniel Asante and co who knew the answer to a maths question even before the lecturer finishes setting a question. ‘R raised to the power puin times V multiplied by K divided by Z and theyalready know X!They were born with Maths. Herh! One of the questions I hate in Maths are questions that go like: ‘If it takes 8 people to weed a football park in 2 days, how many days would it take 20 people to weed the same park? How is that supposed to be my problem?Ern? Hmmm!
When the boy’s dad seemed to praise me with my ‘expertise’ in Maths, I dished out this unnecessary smile to what seemed like an attestation to an otherwise untrue compliment that obviously set me up for more trouble. I was sweating and the man even said a joke about how he didn’t like Maths himself and how he envies people like Mr Mawuli, the MathsProfessor from Tek. It was not the kind of joke that could tickle me to laugh. Kai! All I remember saying while sweating profusely was ‘oh as for Maths, the problem is usually with the students o but you see…’.You see what? oh! The boy’s mother in her hospitable mood brought me jollof rice to eat after that evening’s lessons. If it were you, could you have been able to eat that food? Don’t bring yourself wai.
She even added a bottle of chilled coke. I gulped half the coke down but it was more likea boiling oil, very hot!
Fortunately and unfortunately for me, the lights went off at that point.
I thanked God in my heart but that joy was to last only a few minutes. This ‘devil’ of a father brought a rechargeable lamp in order that I would continue with the day’s lessons with his son. Eeiii! Wahaladeyoo. That was when I immediately developed diarrhea. The man was not smart. His son, my student just smiled and shook his head. At that point I am sure the boy was wondering whether he is going or he is coming! I had worsened matters for him. Like the dream of a dog, all you’d hear this boy say is ‘hmmmmm’. You didn’t know that when a dog has a dream and cannot tell anybody, it only says ‘hmmmmmm’?
In fact, I don’t know how I survived that night; the man would have detected that there was a ‘syntax error’ with his new found mathematically sharp employee, the Professor, the Don of Mathematics, ProfessorZogbenu.
That night, the thought of going back to work again the following day kept me awake. I didn’t want the man to know how weak I was in Mathematics. I gave myself vim but still…or should I resign or feign sickness and disappear?
I managed to complete two months of wasted tuition. My student switched off long since and was only physically present in my class just to satisfy all righteousness as far as his stern dad was concerned!
He went to write the BECE and as to whether he passed or not, please don’t ask me.
On my way home from my regular work, I heard on radio that WAEC had released the results of the BECE and that the pass rate for Mathematics was generally bad. My heart missed a beat. When I got home, I was told MrDadson and two policemen came to look for me and that I should report myself to the Achimota School police station on charges of ‘impersonation’ as far as Maths was concerned.
That was when I relocated immediately from my West Legon residence to GbaweBorla area and changed my mobile phone number. Dasorrrrr! I am still there drinking my palm wine.
That boy is a big boy now. He currently carves dondo drums to sell but he would have been a better dondo maker today if he had continued up to some level. His Mathematics was on a very bad footing. His dreams of becoming a Physicist were shattered;I caused it. Since then, I have learnt to tell people:‘I can’t do it’ if I know it is not something I can do.
That was the second experience after I had given my sister’s husband the hair cut of his lifetime! MrKorshiDossah, may your soul rest in peace; when you come back to this world again, beware of the one you give your head to fora haircut especially if you have a head thatcan neither be described as a motorway nor a savannah forest.The patterns were similar to a savanna vegetation – hair here small, no hair there and it goes round and round. I didn’t know which part to cut first and which one to maintain. Very difficult to find X!
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