I try to be encouraging when people are working on math, because I learned my times tables and long division under duress, so it took me a little longer to catch on.
I remember the third grade teacher I had when we moved to Kimberton, Pennsylvania. That year, in her classroom, under her tutelage is when I developed a significant insecurity about my calculating abilities. One day my teacher was handing back one of our many timed times table tests (say that three times fast or just once correctly). She got to my desk and handed me a paper with a perfect score on it.
“I guess we’ll have to take away your crown as queen of doing everything wrong,” she said loud enough for the entire class to hear.
It was one of those times when I was too shocked and embarrassed to say anything. I’d really been struggling with math lately, no thanks to my teacher. She had my desk in the back row, and she refused to move me up when I told her that I couldn’t see the chalkboard.
Determined it was some sort of ploy for attention, she left me where I was, and I got to have stressful math sessions with my mom in the afternoons and evenings, because I couldn’t see anything she had written on the board.
At the end of that school year, an incident that became a joke in our family clued my parents into my vision problem. We lived in a house on five acres of property in Kimberton. Most of the acreage was in the backyard which led up to the woods. My dad had affectionately named the groundhog we often saw at the tree line Pudgy. One day our family was in the kitchen, and my dad saw Pudgy and made some comment about him. I said I couldn’t see him.
“What do you mean you can’t see him?!” my dad practically yelled.
Our fine furry friend was at the far corner of our property and his light brown color blended in with his surroundings, but it finally occurred to them that I might need glasses.
Sure enough, I did. At the end of that school year, my parents took me out of the public school where the wicked witch of the west was teaching and moved me to a much more nurturing learning environment, which in that city at that time we found at St. Basil's School.
Right now, I'm very grateful to work in a nurturing educational environment. I get to help elementary school kids with their homework, including their math assignments. I'm helping some of the students practice their times tables as well as work through some SAT prep problems. How's that for mathmatical justice?!