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Garth finds the formula - From maths hater to budding maths teacher

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis

Garth Reid hated mathematics to the point where he failed at his first attempt at the subject in Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination, but the 19-year-old now dreams of teaching the subject at the highest level.

"I really hated it to the point where nobody could come to me and tell me anything bout maths. At first I wanted to come to UTech (the University of Technology) and do accounts, which I loved, but because of the maths, I put a mental block to it. I just wanted to get a three or something and just leave it alone," Reid told The Sunday Gleaner.

He said in the summer of 2016, he was not recommended to sit the CSEC exam at his high school because, based on his grades, his teachers thought he would have failed.

In an effort to get the subject out of the way, Reid had his father pay for him to sit the exam at a private facility, but it turned out his teachers were right, he finished with a grade four.

"I was so devastated. I was so disappointed in myself because I wanted to get a better grade because I passed all my subjects except for mathematics. I gave the paper to my father and I said, 'daddy, take this paper, tear it up and throw it away, because you will never see this grade again and I am going to make sure that you will never see it again'," recalled Reid.

Determined not to fail the subject again, he took to social-media site YouTube to teach himself.

'I watched many videos, just to get the content on my own. Of course, I did not understand everything on my own, so I had to go to Saturday classes, held by my acting vice-principal. Everything that I did not understand she would do it in like a practise paper so every day I would go home and practise, and I started practising for five hours a day, or more if I could," said Reid.




His constant practising led to a gradual change in his feelings about the subject, and Reid rejoined the Career Advancement Programme at his school, where he started to excel.

"I started teaching my peers who were in the programme with me, so if they didn't understand something they would come to me and I would work the maths on the board for them. I did City and Guilds Stage 2 maths exam while in the programme and got a distinction," said Reid.

He tried at the CSEC maths again in 2017 and this time he passed. Motivated to learn more, he moved on to the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination where he did pure mathematics and passed.

He was then accepted at UTech to pursue a bachelor's degree in mathematics & education.

"I decided that I didn't want to do accounts, I want to have a career in mathematics. I want to teach persons maths, because I believe that God has given me the knowledge to understand maths, and I'm now doing my part by educating others about the subject.

"I want to help others who did not understand the subject as much as I did at first," said Reid, who decided to share his story with The Sunday Gleaner in an effort to spur other Jamaicans to believe that they, too, can conquer the subject which has proved difficult for so many.

For this year, for only 46.5 per cent of the students in Jamaica who sat mathematics achieved a passing grade. Even then, this represented at 4.5 per cent increase over 2017.