I remember how I felt in third grade when introduced to multiplication. The stomach/head anxiety multiplication gave me is still a sharp shadow. Not getting it. Not getting it. Day after day. The whole year.
I don't remember ever receiving a failing grade or my parents being called in for a conference. But I remember that year knowing that this didn't make sense to me and that it terrified me. (So did my teacher that year, but that's not part of this story.)
I believe it was the first time in school something was hard for me. And I didn't know how to ask for help.
I had built the habits, rewarded by the school, of being a quick, independent learner. Well, not really learner. More of a performer. I had acquired no learning skills.
For the rest of my academic career, I continued on the same path. Mostly it was easy. But when it wasn't, I knew there was something terribly wrong with me, and I would rather live in fear and anxiety than admit it to an adult that I needed help or clarification.
The habits are still pretty similar, though with the coaxing of Marc (for 17years!) and the learning environment we are trying to provide for our kids, I am beginning to become a true learner.
I just last year began to not feel stupid when I had so say 'I don't understand, please tell me that again.' And the amazing thing is that no one has ever walked away from the conversation or the friendship because I asked for help.