Overall, I don't remember much about my young disposition about math, but I do remember as I progressed later through the grades, probably even into high school, that I did not appreciate problem solving. I didn't get story problems, and most of the time, they seemed so irrelevant and removed from my own experiences. I might have wondered, "Who cares how many miles So-And-So traveled?" I would have never verbalized those frustrations or given less than my best effort, but I'm certain that I didn't take away from those situations what my math teachers expected. I'm really hoping for better with my young mathematicians.
The other day I was sitting with the three second grade teachers from my school. They all agreed that the kids coming from our first grade are not intimidated by problem solving situations. They have no trouble attacking a problem and trying out different strategies on the same problem. They're positive and flexible. Of course, I was happy to hear such news. I believe this comes from allowing them the chance to solve problems in ways that make sense to them, instead of teaching them to memorize steps that the teacher has ordained as the right way. They trust themselves and their abilities. I also believe they benefit from learning from the mathematicians around them. The learning that results from constant math talk coming from their peers can nudge and transform their thinking oftentimes better than I can. If I could have had these same experiences as a young mathematician, I'm fairly confident my disposition towards math, specifically problem solving, would be a much more positive one.