Wow, elementary school that is definite history. Miss B. had a lot of hair; Mrs. S. tied Greg in the chair with a jump rope; and, Miss E.was supposed to marry me. Well, that brings me to third grade which was the multiplication basic facts. We had one practice session after another until I master each table. Fourth, Fifth and Sixth grade stressed operation and algorithm after algorithm. I remember spending a lot of time at the chalkboard solving equations. Seventh grade was all about friends and being cool; math was not important. My friends went to a different Junior High, so I spent most of my time getting to know people, especially the girls at the dances. I was a late bloomer. Once I got into Algebra and I decided to grow up, I started to like math. Once Mr. V. started making connections and brought meaning to process, I started to bloom. It got to the point where I sat in the back of the room. He would explain it once; I would start to work on my homework. I would like to think that he was oblivious, but he knew what the back row was doing. On the flip side, I had Mr.Y. for Geometry. He was a little disturbed with me. It might have something to do with my approach to proofs. Although I knew what to do, I would have smart-alec remarks. For example, he would ask us to prove that one side of a shape was congruent to another side; my comment, if you give me a ruler, I can prove it. I guess he did not appreciate my humor. I guess that is why he let the 300 pound lineman from the football team cheat off of me, or maybe it was the fact that the lineman was a senior and needed to pass the class to graduate. I knew that I was not going to stop him; he was huge!
College was a struggle. It was when the dreaded question started, why? It was a time for me to examine why math works the way it does. But true understanding does not happen until you teach it to someone who just does not get it. The first several years of teaching are a time to refine your math skills and to answer the question why.