By Helena V Pena
I studied in a Normal
High School where I obtained an Elementary School certificate in the
early 1970s. It was in my hometown located in the northeast of Colombia.
Since teaching had always been
my real passion, I taught at an elementary public school for
about five years, but I always thought about becoming a certified
secondary teacher. I
had to specialize in at least
one area, so I decided my major would be mathematics. Two reasons
contributed to that decision.
One
reason was my previous success in Math. During
high school
I was
always at the top of my class. In fact, I got high scores in this
subject because
I developed
a special skill solving any kind of math problem easily, which my
teachers called "mathematical thinking." That recognition
encouraged me to choose Math as my major.
Another
reason was my desire to compete with male candidates to become a math
teacher. At that time in my country, few women were admitted into the
study of math
because it was considered a male career.
I wanted to demonstrate to my parents, to my teachers, and above
all, to myself that I could reach my goal, which was to be a successful
math teacher. Therefore, as soon as I could,
I enrolled at a university, studied for five years and achieved
my Bachelor's degree in Mathematics and
a math teaching
credential. I
think that I
chose
my major correctly because I
had success as a math teacher and
because the reasons which motivated my decision
were very strong. In Colombia, I did some research on how to
develop children's mathematical thinking
from kindergarten to twelfth grade. To do this I
worked with some public school teachers who experimented with the
method that came from
my personal experience, and the results were successful. Those
results were written in a methods book for teachers. I was proud to be
considered a role model for many women who followed my example and got their
Math teaching credential at a time when
mathematics
was a male career. Since then, many women like me have studied and become
successful math
teachers in my country.
