Something funny happened to me when I was 16, that only made sense to me, years later. In my mid-year maths exam, after the scores were scaled up, I scored 10.25% (I can hear you laughing, but that wasn’t meant to be the funny bit). This was the year when Maths was mostly Calculus: integrate this, differentiate that. It was all Greek to me - except that my Greek was actually pretty good compared to my Maths.
As a result, and after my Dad had phoned my Headmaster, and the Headmaster had called in my Maths teacher, I ended up spending my evenings, for the foreseeable future, in the company of Mr Bishop, the Maths teacher in question.
“If you didn’t understand, why didn’t you ask any questions in class?” asked Mr Bishop.
“Sir, I didn’t understand enough to ask a question.”
“What didn’t you understand?”
“Why are we doing all this calculus to these poor numbers? Why would we want to do that?”
And then came the genius moment. hoozyu lay decades in the future, and so this can only have been serendipity on Mr Bishop’s part, but he explained Calculus in terms of an engineering problem.
What made it more extraordinary is that no one would have picked me for an engineer - I was “that Arts guy”. I studied Music, ran the jazz band, I could paint, I wrote A* English essays. Only someone who noticed that I spent all my spare time making gliders and flying a model plane out on the school golf course might have guessed different (I certainly never did).
“Imagine we want to cast a bronze propellor for a ship we are building. We need to know how much bronze we will need. So we do… abra… cadabra… kerbam!” Two or three quick equations sketched out, and a result in pounds of bronze required. And I was hooked!
“You mean this helps us get stuff built? My goodness! Tell me more!”
And I was off and running. Four months later, I scored a good A Bursary, helped by my 600% improvement in Maths.
What’s so funny? Well, Mechanical is my third highest interest (85) and so when I first understood that, I realised this was probably what Mr Bishop had tapped into - amazingly - all those years ago. Mechanical is about practicality, hands-on doing and understanding process, so that made good sense. But here’s the funny thing.
In 2012, when Birkman (the company whose data hoozyu is built upon) released new and improved career matching data, what did I find? Of my top 20 matches for specific jobs, 17 were for engineering roles of one kind or another (both “hard” and IT/electronics engineering). And yes, Chef, fashion designer and musician were in there too, but funnily enough, I have been doing IT (and for a while, vehicle mechanics) in every role I have ever had since leaving school - even though I continued to think of myself in the terms I was taught to: the Arts guy. If only I had had this data when I was 16, I might have realised I had way more options than I could see for myself.
I might even have been able to work out that I needed to engage with my Maths classes and ask some questions.