There was a time in grade school when I considered myself to be good at math. To further my beliefs, we'd take achievement tests where I consistently scored higher in Math than Reading or Language Arts. In fact, I did so well, my dad got the idea that I was ready for Algebra in seventh grade, even though some smart teachers thought otherwise. Thus began my numbers demise. I am living proof that there are few things worse than pushing a kid into a class in which he or she is not ready.
Math fits perfectly into Piaget's psychological theories. Have you ever tried to convince a toddler that a fat wide glass has more juice in it than the tall skinny one? If you succeeded, you're probably the first because there is no way most toddlers can grasp that concept, as there was no way twelve year old me was going to 'get' Algebra. It has nothing to do with intelligence, and everything to do with emotional maturity. I just wasn't there yet.
As a result of being pushed beyond my math readiness, I struggled with math throughout high school. Come college, I enrolled in a required Freshman math class. I took one look at my text and horrible memories of struggling through this stuff terrorize me. As a result, I made the mistake of signing up pass/fail for the easiest class of my college career. The difference? Come college, I was ready for this stuff!
As an adult, teaching math is probably my greatest strength because now, not only do I understand numbers, but I think I have good insight as to why some kids don't. Also, I've seen how my number talented son had no trouble securing a job post college. He used to joke with a friend about how he could add but couldn't read and his friend could read but couldn't add. In hindsight, I'm glad Daniel could add.
Although my youngest did not consider herself to be a mathematician, with her friends, they created a great T-shirt idea. Well the adults in charge didn't think so because it never became a shirt. It read something like this: Holy shift! Look at that assymptote on that mother function. IB. We have class.
Here's a great Abbot & Costello math clip.