Sixth grade trauma

My sixth grade teacher hated math. I wasn't that fond of it either. Together we and the rest of the class avoided it nearly every day. But one rare day, as I approached her desk to check my finished math page, she took out a blank sheet of paper suddenly, gave me a ruler and told me to draw a line across the page that was even in distance from each edge. I did it. "Hmm, I thought so!" She showed me my page with my line clearly drawn at an angle. That's when I knew I had a spatial .....'challenge.'

This stumbling block was later reinforced in college when I took an IQ test to help out a friend who was learning how to administer and interpret such tests. As she gave me my results, she paused and seemed uncomfortable, then delivered the news that although my overall mental capacities were fine, I had scored in the single digits in terms of spatial relationships. I knew I had struggled to recreate the black and white block designs presented to me, often timing out without finishing, but single digits?!!

Maps were difficult. Diagrams were difficult. I learned to carefully measure if I needed to draw anything, as my eye was not to be trusted. The confirmation of my lack became a humorous story to tell.

As one of the Big U's ironies, I became a math teacher. I trumpeted my weaknesses as a way to help students feel okay about revealing theirs. But I avoided tangrams. Tangrams are geometric shapes that can be manipulated in order to create a larger, geometric shape. Waayyyy too close to those black and white puzzle pieces. I embraced mistakes but wasn't sure it was a good idea for the kids to see me break out in a cold sweat.

And then I learned the craft of off-loom beading. Although there are video tutorials now, when I taught myself I was forced to look at diagrams paired with written instructions. The pictures showed thread paths in multiple colors weaving in and out of tiny beads. Cold sweat time. But I was absolutely determined, often speaking aloud to the diagrams. You will NOT defeat me!

Beads. Thread. Needle. Time. I was patient with myself. Patience is not one of my strong suits. I did learn how to do this craft. I also learned how face diagrams, and other things, if necessary. You will NOT defeat me!

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