Demotivation at school

Apr 2, 2015 • Richard Tomsett

I was fortunate enough to have good teachers through most of my schooling. At age 11, though, I was put in the class preparing for scholarships to senior schools. I was happy enough in most subjects, but started to struggle at maths - I was never sure why, as I had never found it so difficult before. Others in the class were very gifted maths students, and the teacher tended to go at their pace. When one other student and I fell behind, this was never properly acknowledged or death with, even though the class size was extremely small. I became uninterested in maths because I thought I was intrinsically bad at it. My interest wasn’t rekindled until I was deciding what pre-university subjects to study and I realised I had to take maths to be able to do physics at university (or indeed sound engineering, which I was seriously considering at that point instead of physics). Fortunately, my teachers in my final two years of school were extremely good, and I managed to get the grades I needed. I will never be a maths wizard, but I have learned that if I make an effort to overcome the mental block I built early on, I’m not so bad.

What could have been done to fix this?

This was long enough ago that I don’t remember the details of why I started doing badly, but I suspect it was because I found the jump in level more challenging than the other students in the class, and this was never properly addressed by the teacher, who was happy to focus on the brighter students. At a certain point I’m sure it must have been apparent that I was becoming demotivated, and some intervention at this point would have been helpful.

Apologies for the late submission - moving from Japan back to the UK earlier this week, this was even more hectic than anticipated!