In elementary school mathematics was a subject that I dreaded. One very vivid experience that I recall to this day occurred in Grade 2. The “Problem Solving” unit was introduced to us so we were given a booklet of word problems that we had to complete in the 1 hour class before going out for recess. I was unable to complete the entire booklet before recess. My mathematics teacher came across as being very frustrated with me and I remember sitting at the front desk in the classroom crying my eyes out. Many activities that the teachers had me complete in elementary school had a specific time allotted that we were required to complete it in, or it was considered a race; how many multiplication tables can you get done in a minute? Being under pressure only forced me to freeze up and think about how much time was left, not the math that was assigned.
Mathematics became a natural talent that shone through in my high school courses. There were multiple ways that a problem, or question could be solved, but they all led close to the same outcome. My teacher that taught me mathematics was viewed more as a mentor, that considered mistakes as beneficial and took the initiative to educate each student in a way that they learned best. The majority of the assessments were quizzes, or homework checks and when being evaluated we were given exams, or projects.
When entering into university level mathematics, I began to question myself. Was I really as strong at mathematics as I thought I was? Did I really understand what I was learning? When looking at the grades from the courses, they portrayed that I understood what was being taught to me, but I found that I was memorizing the content not understanding it. Looking back at my high school experiences and comparing them to recent experiences the only difference that I pick out is the educators and their teaching styles. A teacher influences the relationship that students have with mathematics; they can guide them into loving it, or hating it.