There are many reasons why a student may apply themselves better in one subject area than another, such as; interest in the subject, relationship with the teacher, whether the lessons fit their learning style, whether they are sitting next to their friend etc. etc.
This particular teacher is a master at accommodating these kinds of factors, to get the most from each student. However, in this case there was one interesting element missing from the analysis that came to light through her comment about the child's memory.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, some children with language difficulties also have difficulties with some parts of their memory but not others.
The most commonly known memory processes are "short term" and "long term" memory.
Short Term Memory holds small amounts of information for a short time, until distraction causes us to forget the information, or until the information moves into long term memory.
Long Term Memory holds large amounts of information from what we had for breakfast back to a movie we saw many years ago.
However, memory is a bit more complex and dynamic than just "short term / long term". Some memory processes require no conscious attention; images we don't consciously remember are captured by our "iconic store" and the "echoic store" briefly holds sounds we are not consciously listening to.
In the field of learning difficulties increasing attention has been given to a process known as "working memory", an essential skill in our busy school, work and home schedules.
Working Memory holds a limited amount of information, while we use that information to solve a problem, such as remembering an address, while we figure out the directions to get there. To do this we must be able to keep our conscious attention both on the address, and the problem solving process of figuring out the directions. Maintaining attention at this level can be very difficult for children with ADHD and for children with weak language or visual processing.
But back to the student who appeared to be applying her memory better to HSIE than to Maths. Another memory process that can be a struggle for children with certain learning difficulties is "procedural memory".
Procedural Memory is used to recall overlearned information such as reciting the alphabet or times tables and to perform automatic tasks such as driving a car. Getting information into our procedural memory requires sequencing and rehearsal. Contrasting with this process is "declarative memory".
Declarative Memory stores our personal experiences and general knowledge. Using this process we can store a piece of information in our long term memory just from a single experience, although even declarative memories can be strengthened by multiple exposures.
So, it became apparent the child in question was using her strong declarative memory in HSIE, but her weak procedural memory was holding her back in Maths. To improve her Maths, she needed to build her procedural memory through repetition and find ways of applying her strong declarative memory to Maths. Maths became as much fun as HSIE when she began using her declarative memory to relate maths problems to her daily experience with money, portions of cake etc and making up "Maths Stories" about taxes in imaginary kingdoms, and floating cars that travel at different heights to avoid crashing.
I love it when Speech Pathologists and Teachers put their heads together :)