When I was at school, up to a certain age, I was not a “good” student, even though I liked mathematics, physics and generally all the “science” courses.
When I was 15/16 years old, finishing the first year of high school (in Greek: Α Λυκείου) I had reached nadir. Only due to my highly infiltrated oral degrees, I had a respectable GPO. But the truth was harsh. Even in courses that I was traditionally good, I was failing 13/20 (maths) as well as in other courses that I can’t recall now*.
How was it possible? Is not liking a course enough? Why even though I understood the theory, I was still making silly mistakes? Why some problems were looking hard enough to be solved? The answer was simple. I had not practiced. I used to study only during the first month of the school year.
Thankfully, I was pretty determined even in young age about what I want to do (study computer science) and, furthermore, I could not stand to fail in something that I really like. Some time ago, before the incident, I had discovered by observation that, at least people of my age, tend to like things that they are good at or they are told that they are good at. I didn’t like the thought of determining my taste using criteria of other people without asking myself. After all, it was about my taste! I had to act.
Long story short, we had not much money. I was not able to join private supplementary education (very common to do so in the Greek educational system) at least for that year and more importantly, I didn’t feel I had to. Instead, we brought several supplementary books about the school courses. Later, we brought even more. They should be enough.
At the beginning, I was looking forward to a school excursion, so by taking advantage of the day off, I would be able to catch up with the pace at school. It was a hard effort and I could not make it in time to solve all the (already solved) questions of the books otherwise (I was using two or three books in maths). While I was struggling with the exercises, I was hiding the solutions since if I read them, there was no point in my effort. That’s how I learnt that cheating is pointless. I had chosen to solve the already solved questions since I had no teacher to help me in these exercises, but the solutions were making simple enough to test the validity of my answer and find what piece of theory I had missed.
Later or, I was able to catch on. With only about 3 hours/day I was feeling OK. On the other side, I didn’t study the courses of humanitarian science, as much as I should. Well, I didn’t care about them because I didn’t really like them. In retrospect, I was plainly wrong at my evaluation but I put the blame on the school for that. …And on me since I was not mature enough to understand them.
So, about my favourite book, it is this one at the picture. I learnt from this book how to express myself when I am solving a math question, patience while striving for the solution and persistence in my goals. Other people remember their teachers. I do remember some of them. But I recently saw this book because of a give-away post (in Greek) of these books that are not used anymore. And I remembered this story which is relevant now, as the new school/academic year starts in a few days…
*Every one has a personal definition for failure.