What, Or Who, Inspired You To Become A Maths Teacher? By Telka Donyai

Growing up I was always good at maths and it came fairly easily to me (though this didn’t mean I did not have to study or work hard at it to do well in my exams!) However, I noticed that this was not the same for the majority of students at my school. In fact, it was seen as very acceptable to say “oh I’m just not good at maths, my brain doesn’t work like that”. This is something I still hear all the time and this mindset is carried forwards into adulthood. 

I always wondered why maths was seen as something you were either innately good at or doomed to never understand. For the latter, the opinion seemed to be that they shouldn’t even bother trying to change this.  

I love Mathematics and I see it as language in its own right. As a language I think it should be seen to be just as important as learning to speak the language of the country you are born or live in. It is such a crucial life skill and is used in everyday life just as we use our communication skills. 

I think this has been a big drive in me becoming a maths teacher. I want everyone to stop just accepting they are ‘not good at maths’ and realise that it is very important and they should not settle for anything less than having a high level of proficiency in maths. Nobody would give up trying to learn to speak or read fluently so why do students give up understanding the language of maths? I also want people to realise that with practice you can actually get better at maths and it’s not just an intrinsic gift only some people have. 

This leads me onto my next main reason for wanting to become a maths teacher. My younger brother is autistic and really struggled with maths even though he is actually very numerate. His brain works very differently, and it takes him a lot longer to learn things. There is a lot of repetition needed for him to develop good retention or fluency in something, but once he does understand the concept he applies it well. I helped him with studying for his maths GCSE and he came out with much higher than his predicted grade! Seeing the difference I was able to make made me really want to be able to do this for other people.  

Ultimately, I want to be able to break the stigma around mathematics, make more people see its importance, realise it can be learned and they should want to learn it because it is so useful. I am also passionate because of my brother at trying to make mathematics more accessible for those with neurodivergence or other learning differences.  

By Telka Donyai 



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