Your Reasoning Doesn’t Add Up

| Learning | February 22, 2017

(Due to issues with my family, when it came to time to do my GCSEs — the last exams of mandatory education in the UK — I did far worse than expected. A few years later I’m trying to get the important two, maths and English, covered. English goes fine, but I had for some time strongly suspected that I have a learning disability called dyscalculia which affects, among other things, my ability with numbers and basic mathematics. My teacher has me see a specialist who confirms this. Then we have this conversation once we’d moved onto the maths.)

Teacher: “Hm, well, it seems like a lot of the problems you’re having are because you don’t know your times tables.”

Me: “Yes, I know. I told you that I’ve never been able to learn them.”

Teacher: “Well, we need to get you to learn them. Once you learn them, you’ll be able to do division with no trouble, and-”

Me: “Uh, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. Believe me, I’ve tried to learn. Unless you have a magic wand-”

Teacher: “No, it’s fine. Here—” *she pulls some papers out of her folder; a times tables square and some basic times tables number puzzles* “Do these. They’ll help you to learn them.”

Me: “I’ve used things like this before. Over and over, in fact. It doesn’t help.”

Teacher: “Give it a go. It got all of my sons to learn their times tables.”

Me: *after a long pause of being too stunned to respond* “Do your sons have DYSCALCULIA?!”

Teacher: “No, but it worked on all of them! Give it a go.”

Me: “My parents had me use these before! They. Didn’t. Work.”

Teacher: “Do them. They’ll work.”

(My parents used to lock me in my room with nothing to do until I “stop being lazy and learn the times tables” with sheets just like these. It was like trying to decipher a foreign language with no context. It worked about as well at this point as it did in my childhood. This was when I stopped trying to get a better grade. The good news is that eight years later I’m training to be a counselor,  and nobody gives a d*** about my mathematical ability!)

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