Math Autobiography

     Math looked very different in the various classrooms I entered during my schooling. I can recall grade one consisting of many worksheets and grade two included traveling math and other math games. Grade three was very disorganized as far as I can remember. Some students completed a small portion of the math textbook, whereas one student finished the book in its entirety. Grade four was the year that I memorized my multiplication tables and specifically remember having many math tests. My grade five teacher was extremely organized and had worksheets divided into levels. Once you finished one sheet, you simply went to the front of the class to get the sheet that came next. This method allowed each student to be independent and move at their own pace. In grade six I remember working a lot with word problems. Most of these teachers seemed to see math as a very important part of the curriculum (besides my grade three teacher who seemed to allow the subject to go by the wayside). I remember learning math in many different ways throughout the years (lessons, memorization, games, tricks, etc) but in some ways I feel like my math teachers were merely getting us to memorize things and would then give out tests. The times I felt the most positively about math were when a lightbulb would turn on and I actually understood the process and - not when I just knew or had memorized the answers. When something actually clicked I felt the best and happiest about math.

     I have both good and bad memories surrounding math in elementary school. The best memory I can think of happened in grade four. We had a multiplication test with 108 questions and I had 107/108 right! I was really proud of that and still have the test in my room. Unfortunately, I wasn't very confident and used to get really nervous when a teacher would call on students to answer math questions in front of the class. I had a fear of giving the wrong answer and can still remember feeling completely embarrassed when that happened. I can see how these experiences have affected my current view of math - I still have conflicting emotions on the subject and am still scared I will give a wrong answer in class. 

     During elementary school I thought I was "good" at math for the most part. It just made sense to me. During junior high and high school I had mixed results in my math classes. From grade eight to ten I had a hard time with math. In addition to not doing very well in those classes, some of my family members used to randomly ask me to solve math equations. This didn't help my situation or feelings towards the subject at all - it just made me feel incompetent. It also didn't help that my older brother and sister were very "good" at math. I am more artsy and creative whereas they are very logical. This lead me to feel like I wasn't "as good" at math and that I was less intelligent because I saw math as being of a higher value than the arts. Then, strangely enough, for the last two years of high school I loved math, felt confident in my skills, and did really well in my classes. I also found the two math courses I have taken here at Memorial (Math 1050 and Math 1051) to be quite easy and enjoyable. I'm not sure if these varying results throughout my schooling were a consequence of the teachers or my own attitude/approach (or both), but either way I now feel fairly confident in my basic skills (however still hesitate to answer questions in front of others). In spite of some of my negative experiences and my occasional nervousness, I still like math and am really looking forward to gaining more knowledge and confidence this semester. 

Just in case you need some visuals...


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