There are moments of teaching I like to remember - episodes of cleverness, compassion, success. And then there are the other moments, the ones that my thoughts tend to flee, the ones I prefer not to think about. This is a story about both.
Instead, failure is born from a messy combination of bad circumstances: high anxiety, low motivation, gaps in background knowledge. Most of all, we fail because, when the moment comes to confront our shortcomings and open ourselves up to teachers and peers, we panic and deploy our defenses instead. For the same reason that I pushed away Topology, struggling students push me away now.
For more, see the upcoming blockbuster post: "What It Feels Like to Be Bad at Math"!