Before I started Master Your Math, I used to teach at other tuition centre. At these places, I was exposed to a wide spectrum of students in terms of their competence and education level. While I do prefer teaching students in secondary schools as I feel that my strengths are better suited to them, the primary school kids still interest me. This was so as they tend to be less filtered- their innocence encourages them to speak their mind.
A little story
I remember an incident whereby I asked a student if he felt that he will never score well because he isn’t “smart”. His answer was yes- and that was surprising to me back then. I’m a firm proponent of the growth mindset, and that I can do well in anything I want to with sufficient practice and knowledge. My confidence comes from the difficulties I have to overcome. Yet most people have not had similar experiences, and may lack the confidence. Hence, I am writing today’s article so that if you are one of those people who is not as confident in yourself, I hope this article will give you a boost of confidence.
The never-ending debate
At the core of this article is the never-ending debate between nature and nurture. I think most of us already accept that these two factors are not mutually exclusive. It will be silly to presume that one is important while the other is not. However, a deeper (and harder) question is- can my hard work overcome my lack of natural talent?
I shall state my disclaimer here- I’ve no idea if hard work can overcome a lack of natural talent at the elite levels. And “elite levels” refer to pinnacles like the Olympics, becoming the CEO of a MNC etc. The only way to find out is to have “parallel universes” so that each character has all the same starting points, but different intelligence levels. Yet this is impossible to conduct, and hence I shall save myself the trouble of speculation.
What most people care about is this- can I reach the top 10-20% in my domain even if I lack natural talent? Often, belonging to the top 20% is sufficient to ensure a relatively comfortable life and fulfill the common definition of success. For example, being in the top 20% of the cohort for a particular subject is often enough to net one an A.
I do believe that a lack of talent can be overcome up to the top 20%. I shall share my own academic struggle and hopefully that’ll encourage you too.
Overcoming lack of natural talent- my story
Physics has always been a subject that I struggle with- I remember myself scoring only around 60% during my secondary school years. They may not be downright terrible, but I was skipping a ton of questions during the exams. Back then I feel as though I may not be a “Physics person”, especially since Biology came so much easily for me in secondary school.
It was only when I retook A Levels that I decided that I was going to ace Physics. I sought out the best tuition that I can find and invested in myself. Even then, the beginning was not easy. I remember sitting awkwardly during lessons, having to answer questions but having no idea how to do them. However, I persisted, and gradually I can sense my understanding of Physics concepts improving. Physics questions became easier and easier, as I understood what the examiners were looking for. In fact, it was this experience of becoming good at a subject I have scored terribly for for so long that inspired me to start Master Your Math.
I eventually scored A for H2 Physics, even though I used to believe I wasn’t a Physics person. I learned that it is much less about having natural aptitude for something, but more about seeking out the best practices and working extremely hard.
If this article strikes a chord in you, please feel free to share your past experiences in the comment section below.
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