“The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

(Marcus Aruelius)

Recently I had the pleasure of working with a very intelligent and highly gifted adult, a man called Anthony. He is 28 years old and is already working in a senior position of a global tech company, where his creative solutions are valued. Anthony is Dyslexic and had done a Davis Dyslexia correction program a year ago, which helped him greatly. However, he still struggled with Maths, not the complicated formulas, algorithms or algebra – he said to me that he simply doesn’t get basic Mathematics.

For many people that would be hard to understand. How can someone work in a field where arithmetic is an advanced skill, yet Anthony told me that he cannot work out anything simple, like money. He’d give someone a $ 5 bill to pay for a sandwich, which costs $ 3.50 and he would not know how much change he is supposed to get. ‘You learn to hide this fact and hope people don’t take advantage of you, discover your secret or test you in anything basic.’ Anthony paid everything with credit card in order to not be caught out.

It was the concept of ‘change’ that turned his understanding around.

Change is defined as:

“Something becoming something else.”

 In a Math program we choose amounts to represent that something. Initially we talk about the many changes we see or experience in our lives, changes that take place without any interference or those that are consequences of our action or inaction. We talk about nature changing the seasons, the tides, the moon, the aging process and every evolution we may witness, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. This is a time for questions. “Apart from humans and animals, what else changes, without us doing anything?” You want to make sure that some kind of flora will be named, like a seedling becoming a tree.

The concept of ‘change’ was the first big ‘aha’ moment for Anthony. He had created a small tree  with an arrow next to it, which was pointing to a larger tree to the right: something had become something else. For a moment there was silence, then the realization: “Change doesn’t mean ‘difference’ then?” In his mind, time had never played any role in change. That made so much sense to me – of course he would have had trouble with time, if ‘change’ was merely the difference between the size or the amount of two objects or people.

As soon as this realization had hit, money and getting change was easy to understand and to work out. Change, one of the main pillars of maths, had helped to finish the ‘building’, the understanding and ease around mathematics.