Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Carnival: What I've Learned This Week

I am going to participate in Jo-Lynne's (of Musings of a Housewife) carnival this week.

If you haven't heard about it, its not too late to join.

So what have I learned this week?

I have learned that there are many places in which I live my life through insecurity.

Deep huh? 

Well, it is deep. Almost deep enough that I am not sure I can write about it without typing on forever. But I am going to give it a try.

In fifth grade I was in Mr. Pollard's class. 

He didn't like me.

At all.

At this point in my young life as a  student I had already decided I was terrible in math.

I just didn't get it. 

In fifth-grade I had an experience that would start a life-long issue that I am going to spend this year purposefully battling.

In fifth grade Mr. Pollard called me to the board and made me stand there for a very long time, while he belittled me for not knowing what 8x7 was. 

After standing there being yelled at in front of my peers, and not being able to think, much less write 56 on the board, he proceeded to tell me that I had wasted his time, and the entire fifth grade class time. Now, he would waste  my time; I would spend both recess and lunch writing 8 x 7 = 56 on a piece of paper over and over again. 

I do believe that that day, at the age of 10 I decided I would never again waste anybody's time with my incompetence in math. I managed to get through enough math to pass high school and college. How I did it, I do not know.

Currently I am homeschooling a 5th grade boy who is in the trenches with long division. He's getting it, and doing well. But my attitude toward teaching math has been less than desirable. I get irritated (and irritable) because it takes me almost as much time as it takes him to do the math. I have had to break down problems with a pencil and a paper more often than he does. I have had to say, "Sorry Boy, I did that problem wrong. Your answer is correct" so  many times it's embarrassing.

You are probably wondering what this has to do with what I have learned, so I will just get to it: I have learned that I been teaching from an attitude of pride and insecurity, rather than teaching from a willing spirit.

I have learned that this attitude toward math doesn't just happen during the school hours either. 

I have avoided doing math (without a calculator) in almost every aspect of my life: from eating out with friends at lunch (I make them figure out how to split the bill), to coupon-ing (if it's too complicated I won't sit down and figure it out), to buying a home or car (I make The Mister handle all financial stuff)...I have avoided doing math that I could not do quickly. And I cannot do most math quickly.

I have compensated for a weakness by avoiding the problem instead of facing it; I have been allowing my insecurity to lead my life in this area, which makes me feel like a poser and only leads to more insecurity.

I am amazed at how I have limited myself because I have carried a lie deep within me that has hindered me for over 30 years: That I am not good at math.

The TRUTH is that I have never tried to be good at math. I'd given up long ago.

So what have I learned this week?

I have learned that it will take the power of God to get me over my Math Issues

I have learned that its OK to relearn math with your fifth grade son. 

As a matter of fact, its better this way. He is an amazing study partner. 

That is what I learned...


Anonymous said...

WOW! I have the same hangups with Math. I resigned myself long ago that I would just never get it. It can be embarassing at times when I can't do simple math in my head. Good for you for trying to get over your fear. I don't know if I'm there yet.

jen@odbt said...

I somehow made it through math by the skin of my teeth. My husband jokes that I will not be the one helping our children with their math homework. I plan to relearn with my son too especially fractions and percents.

Lindsay said...

Such a great lesson! I love math and its 90% about attitude and 10 % about skill. I am sure you can do it if you put your mind to it and God gives us wisdom when we ask :-)

Michelle@Life with Three said...

I loved this post, Kellie. I can completely relate -- I gave up on math long ago. When I went for my real estate license, I was forced to confront my math issues head-on (calculating mortgage rates and the like). What I discovered was that math problems could actually be **gasp** fun. Don't get me wrong. I'm no math nerd -- I still avoid math on a daily basis, but the key is -- like you say -- how you approach it.

Btw, I think what your fifth grade teacher did to you was absolutely horrible. I wish teachers were more aware of how small incidents like that can shape someone for the next several years.

Tiffani said...

Oh Kellie..I am on my way to NC right now to give you a big hug!!!!!

I could've written this MYSELF!!! I'm serious...I have such compassion for you in this!!! I only have a 2nd grader and we're about to start regrouping and I'm shaking!

I am hopping right on board this mentality that I've never TRIED to be good at math. So, you've encouraged this call-adam-from-the-store-to-ask-how-much-4-for-10-is girl and I appreciate your honesty today!!!!

I hear refrains of "I Will Survive" in the back of my head! :)

Shelley @ My Treasure Hunt said...

Thanks for sharing that! I admire your willingness to teach and learn with him. That is awesome. He will see your "teachable" spirit and that will be worth more than all the math knowledge in the world. Hope it goes well!

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Such an honest post!! I remember sitting at the kitchen table wishing I HADN'T asked my dad for help because he gave the looooooongest answers.

Musings of a Housewife said...

Girl. I was a 3rd grade teacher, and I promise you, I had to relearn almost EVERYTHING I taught in math. AND I'm fairly good at math. It is TOTALLY normal to be re-learning along with a 5th grader.

When I hear about teachers like the one you suffered 5th grade with, I want to take legal action against unions and tenure, lol. People like that should NOT be teaching. Period.

Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable! :-)

Windy said...

I love math, and am pretty good with it, but now in school, they teach with different methods than I learned with. I learn something from the kids often! Keep up the learning with him;) Maybe eventually you'll learn to like it.

Shannon (muzbeecrazy.com) said...

What a wonderful post! I'm so sorry you had to go through that incident. I feel like finding your fifth grade teacher and giving him a piece of my mind. Isn't it amazing that something like that has impacted your whole life and he probably has never even thought twice about it? Anyway, I'm right there with you about the bill at restaurants. I do the same thing and make my friends figure it out! :-)

The Buntens said...

Okay first of all, I so cannot believe that teacher and I am really mad at him for being so mean to you. Mean mean guy!

Second, I hate math. I just made it through school and did a little happy dance when I was able to pass Algebra 2 so I could graduate high school.

Great post, Kelly! I think more of us operate from a place of fear and insecurity than we care to admit.

Eli's Lids said...

Great post!! That just stinks about your teacher... I'm so sad that he was just so lame! I think as a mom I'm getting more and more insecure about everything... body, being a wife, my house cleaning...
I have to daily remind myself that to Jesus, I'm his perfect daughter... the same way I look at my kiddos!!

Megan O. said...

I can't believe the teacher you had, what a traumatizing event for any kid. I'm so glad you're able to see the root of this and work through it. It's the most work just to recognize those things in yourself sometimes.

fortyb4forty said...

Wow, what a amazing post. You made some great points to ponder about insecurity. Thanks for sharing.

Woman Interrupted said...

Hey, I bet this won't be the last subject you get to re-learn with one of your kids. You faced up to it and said a lot of things about math that I have also felt for a good many years. I'm proud for you!

I wonder how my education/career choices might have been different if I had had a different attitude about math all those years.

I think the bigger lesson here is modeling to your kids that you can stop in your tracks and choose a different, better path. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I could have totally written this post. It is so true for me too. It is the running joke in my household (and blog) that I stink at math. Thanks for a great post!

Anonymous said...

That a teacher could be so mean just breaks my heart. Children are so fragile. That you are even attempting 5th grade math is commendable!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Great post, Kellie.

I'm mad at that Mr. Pollard though. Ugh.

I need to learn from your attitude because I have serious math hangups.So much so that I almost cry when my husband has to be out of town b/c I'm terrified of math homework.

I'm proud of you, and thanks for sharing this.

Blue Skies said...

"I have compensated for a weakness by avoiding the problem instead of facing it" I found that out about myself this week too. God has brought the problem straight to the forefront of my life and I feel the same need to use the power of God to get it into its rightful place. Mine wasn't with math (although Chemistry might be an issue someday.....) but the lesson is the same - I can't let a lie or a liar make me think I am something other than what God says I am. With God's help we can conquer - Hurray! (Hear my rallying cry?!). Kellie, you are so wise. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

What a mean teacher you had! Good for you for overcoming your math issues! I have the same problem when I try to help my girls with their math homework...I figure by sixth grade, I'm going to be hosed.

meh said...

Kelly, dear, I am so proud of you!! My head was totally messed with by a negative math teacher from my childhood and it is amazing how that hang-up stays with you. How great that your boy has such a humble and creative and loving and responsible and encouraging 5th grade teacher!!

Phyllis@Aimless Conversation said...

Maybe Mr, Pollard knew her. My mean math teacher was Ms Haas. She wore bright, ugly coral colored lipstick and told me I was dumb. I was in eighth grade still struggling with multiplication.

I completely understand your Math phobia, as I am math avoidant as well. I admire you for seeing the deeper issues there and facing them.

As for homeschooling, PTL for Math-U-See!