I loved math until the 5th or 6th grade. Before that, my mom got me math workbooks to do for fun at home and when we traveled. I used to make up my own math problems. Big, elaborate addition and multiplication problems. I would do subtraction and some division problems. You can’t make such elaborate problems that way.

I remember having a bit of problem with fractions and I couldn’t really make them up on my own. I also remember letters being added to find mystery numbers. I LOVED those. I would make up those as well. The kind where letters and numbers were going on one side of an = sign and then more were going on the other side too. I recognized that since I was making them up, I was probably making up unsolvable problems. That didn’t detract from the entertainment and pure fun of trying to work them to see if I might actually come up with some solvable problems.

Then in 5th or 6th grade, don’t remember which, the teachers started to tell me that I had trouble with math and the put me in a special group that met during one of the recesses. So I lost a recess to work on math. Only my memory is that they just sat us at a table to give us extra time to work on math. I don’t actually remember any extra help.

In junior high, I also had to go to a special math group that met either during home room or I lost a lunch period to do it. That was a once or twice a week thing. I know I wasn’t missing that period every day every week. I do remember that was a bit more structured. The teacher would cover concepts that students were having trouble with. Think of it as an extra, remedial, class that you took at the same time you were taking regular math classes.

Fast forward to High School. In the math classes I did take, I ended up sitting next to people who were failing. I was able to help them understand the math and raise their grades to B’s. Yet I was still getting D’s and C’s.

I had so gotten the message that I was bad at math that even thought I understood the concepts enough that I could teach a failing student, I still made strange mistakes that it took my teachers 10 to 15 minutes to find. (my algebra teacher told me that the only way she could find where I went wrong was to redo my problems herself to try to find my mistake. She also told me that I made the strangest mistakes and not the ones that most people would make.)

To this day I wonder if I was really bad at math in grade school of if I was the victim of a teacher who didn’t really want to take the extra time with me when a new concept had been introduced that I might have needed more help with rather than just more time to do homework.

All I know for sure is that they took a child that loved numbers to no end and turned her into an adult that hates math and hates numbers.