Advanced Essay #2: But I Was Paying Attention To You



This essay helped me develop as a writer because I challenged myself to writing in third person about my struggle with understanding math. The point of my essay was to prove that literature isn't just a bunch of words in english class. It is a group of individuals that strive to communicate and learn. I did that with math. Math was a language, a group that did not want me because I did not correspond with it. I am proud of the descriptive language I used. At first I needed help with my use of quotes and context, but thanks to my peer reviews I grew as a better writer.

But I was paying attention to you

Mackenzie stares deeply at the walls of bright fluorescent yellow room, as she questions her purpose of presence and wonders why she can't seem to work like anyone else in her classroom. The question, “Why am I struggling with math?” bobbles around her her 4th grade mind everyday. She watches the teacher scribbles on the board,  what appears to Mackenzie as Latin, as she listens the sound of pencils scratching notebooks. She questions why her hand isn’t moving as swiftly as the other students as her eyes linger across her paper. She questions herself again wondering why her brain is not processing the board almost like a machine no longer functioning. She thinks to herself how it feels as  the gears of the  machine that is her brain suddenly stop and and grows into darkness, gets colder, and fills with cobwebs. There is nothing now, she cannot see absolutely nothing.

The proud teacher, ready to cause trouble strolls over to her. “Mackenzie, why aren't you solving the problem?” She stares at her teacher blankly, collecting herself before she then asked for help.  “I don't know how to start. Can you help me?” She explains as her teacher gives her a freezing look as all the other children in the classroom turn around and stares at her. All eyes are on her as the teacher complains about Mackenzie’s “ignorance”. “I just explained how do to do it a minute ago, weren't you paying attention?” As , Mackenzie sinks in her chair, the teacher put his hands on his hips with disgust  She sits in silence as she listens to the beating in her heart, deeper and deeper. Not knowing that she not one but two learning disabilities, one including Autism. Language should be about embracing individuality. If not culture and personal connections between people wouldn't exist.

People commonly think math consist of only equations and numbers on a piece of paper. However for Mackenzie, it is a whole other universe in her mind. Math is a language in itself that can be used to create a clique for people to isolate themselves from those who aren't fluent. Math is a form of literacy; it is a form of communication that does not include words it. Literacy does not need to consist of words, it is a umbrella of many languages. Literacy is a community that educates people and allows them to speak to each other them.  Mackenzie did not speak the tongue of Math, but she scrapped and dragged herself to the death to understand it. In a short story titled, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, the text states, And I think, how could you tame a wild tongue, train it to be quiet, how do you bridle and saddle it? How do you make it lie down?Mackenzie was forced into silence when she completed her work incorrectly. How to tame a wild tongue gives an argument and proves a point that people will try to silence you based on “incorrect” language. Everyone is different in many ways, including how we speak. We need to come to an understanding as to why it should not be seen as a problem.

Feeling out of place Mackenzie became distant from other students, she was tired of being made fun of. They would treat Mackenzie as an idiot for not understanding the things they did.They rejected her and she didn't know how to deal with it, rejection for a 10 year old was hard for her to overcome. She was singled out from groups that she was forced to sit in front of everyday in class. Mackenzie was being neglected and she began to believe that she will never be good enough. With no friends, Mackenzie felt herself slipping, in the form of grades and happiness. While thinking that she had no future in mind, everything turned into a great emptiness of dark depression. Her family tried to help with doctor visits only leading to prescriptions of  antidepressants  which didn't give any effect to the hatred for herself that continuously swirled her mind.  She began to felt alone after she felt as though she was thrown under the bus by the only person she looked up to.  Everyone around Mackenzie spoke the language of math, except for her. It bobbled in her mind “why would no one help me.” She is reaching for a lifeline that slips right through her fingers, acting like a ghost. But wait, she is a ghost. An invisible existence that is fighting for life again but there's nothing to grab onto. She holds on but her will is slipping. It isn't broken but will break. She needs help quick, before she gives up on understand math, before she realizes that she will learn the language of math!

How to Tame a Wild Tongue claims that language is not understood if you weren't fitting in with the environment.“Chicanas who grew up speaking chicano spanish have internalized the belief that we speak poor spanish.” If your childhood was not spent at Chicano, then you speak poor spanish.” Since Mackenzie spent some of her life not retaining math, she continued to struggle time and time again.

Before the last string in Mackenzie's will to learn wilters, a 5th grade teacher, pulls her arm out of a black dimension and rushes her through a colorful world of understanding. Mackenzie is learning math, later she is capable of speaking that language. And guess what, it's her language now too. She learns math in her own way, and sometimes, that's how life works. You do you boo. She made personal connections with others by solving math equations together. That created friendships, then later she was in a whole culture of students that used to be like her as well.

If you achieve the right answers and people understand how you communicate then you are alright! Language “Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.” says author Paolo Freire. You can speak the language any way you choose. Some people speak slang, it is understood. Mackenzie math is like a slang that even some people are inspired by;they use slang too. She went from a flightless bird to a flying bird with the rest of the flock.

Society is not accepting of those who struggle. If you are weak you stand out, and get tossed aside. Mackenzie went through a lot of struggle in order to become the women she is today speaking in the tongue of math.Literacy should be embraced, and yourself. Our society should help the weak instead of pushing them away. You never know how amazing a person can be until they learn. Embrace your individuality.