Confession Time

Photo credit Kat
An article in Bust magazine was talking about changing how we teach math to be more inclusive. That article sparked this post...

When I was in my late 20's I took a course about teaching reading and writing for my MA in English. One of the assignments was to write about a learning difficulty that so we could talk in class about different learning styles and learning disabilities. I wrote about the challenges that I had learning math. I pointed out that I was a good student, but my math grades were abysmal. In high school I was in honors biology, english, and history, yet I was placed in fundamentals of algebra. I struggled in that class.

My teacher noted on my paper that I probably had dyslexia and that I should get tested. Well, the tests cost a lot of money and I have learned to cope with my 'number swapping' as I call it. In fact I currently manage millions upon millions of dollars. The only reason that is possible is because when I type I do not swap numbers. Yet, give me a phone number to write down and while looking at the paper and writing the number down I can see my hand transpose the numbers.

When I was in 4th and 5th grade I had the same teacher, Mr. Swanson, for two years in a row. He taught using baseball analogies. I was lost. Now, I realize that was many moons ago, but the sports analogy happened to me recently and again I was lost. I was taking a course on Leadership and Management and the consultant showed us a video of Ditka yelling at one of his players.

His question started with 'when Ditka yelled at the player for football mumbo jumbo was that effective?' Rationally I parsed out the question, but since I could not understand the football play I could not join the conversation about leadership. Learning fail. Now, I realize that I'm a girl and I am not interested in sports (I would also point out that in my home we watched Westerns, not sports. Ask me a math question about John Wayne and I can answer it), but an informal poll during the break showed that approximately 25% percent of the ladies and 25% of the gentlemen understood the question. The rest of us floundered because we did not watch football.

Sports watching is not relegated to only men any more and, news flash, many of my female friends watch sports avidly. Also, many of my friends when they refer to futbol are talking about 'American' soccer. Football is not universal and neither is baseball.

This right here is why we need to be better teachers so that girls can feel smart enough to keep on changing and building the new world. 

I learned how to cope with my disability but I wish I did not have to spend so much of my life feeling dumb. What did you struggle with? 

Originally published 11/19/13 

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