Although interested in most subjects, Keller states in her memoir that she was not particularly fascinated by arithmetic. Miss Sullivan did, however, feel compelled to instruct her in it. She taught it to her young pupil first by using beads to help Helen learn to count. Miss Sullivan then arranged straws so that Helen could learn to add and subtract. Helen notes that she did not have much patience for this activity.
Later, when Miss Sullivan and Keller were visiting the Wade family in Hulton, Pennsylvania, they discovered that the neighbor, Mr. Iron, could teach Helen Latin. They hired him to give her Latin lessons, and he was also able to help her with her arithmetic. All the same, Helen still continued to find arithmetic an uninteresting endeavor.