10 years ago I was 45 and a mature student in 3rd year at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, studying for a BSc in Mathematics with Teaching.
Anyone who knows me was astonished that I was studying Maths. At school I had favoured Arts subjects like English, French, German, History, Music. But, in 2004 my daughter was studying Higher Maths at school and I was unable to help her with her homework, not having studied to that level myself.
At a parents’ meeting, I expressed my disappointment at this to the teacher and he suggested I could go to the school as an adult returner and study the course in a different class to my daughter.
I discovered that I loved Maths and soon I was helping the kids in the class with their homework too. The teacher of the class suggested to me that I study Maths at university and become a teacher.
As I had only been working part-time after recovering from my first burnout, I thought this was an excellent idea and based on my school qualifications and a pass in Higher Maths I was given a place at Strathclyde.
I loved being a student again. I had gone to St Andrew’s University to study French and German when I was 18, but had dropped out after one term. I was delighted to have a second chance at a university education. There was a small group of mature students on the course who became great friends and the younger students were friendly and welcoming of us “oldies”. I have many happy memories of the Student Union!
Although I had a flat in Glasgow during the week for most of my course, in 3rd year I travelled by train, as for some of the year I was doing teaching practice in local schools. I have fond memories of the 06.30 train , it took 2 hours 20 mins to get to Glasgow, calling at every whistlestop along the way. I had the best marks of my university career that year as I studied all the way there and all the way back!
I wrote this memory recently:
“I am sitting in the Barony Hall with the class of 2009. I am 47 years old and about to graduate with a BSc in Mathematics with Teaching with First Class Honours. Only 6 years earlier I had been almost completely bed bound, felled by both CFS and a painful back problem that would require surgery. I rarely ventured out and then only with the help of Oramorph and my husband pushing me in a wheelchair. The sense of pride in my recovery and achievements brought tears to my eyes. I was starting work as a Probationer Teacher in my local high school, 5 minutes from my home. I was filled with excitement at the possibilities that lay ahead. The future was bright.
Little did I know that only 7 years later, I would be back where I started, in bed, exhausted, frightened and alone.”