I'm not trying to make the argument that there are huge biological or innate differences in people. This is intended to communicate a problem(that the education system has since gotten wise to).
When we were taught to multiply in elementary school, the teacher handed out peices of paper with a big grid of all the multiples from 1x1 to 12x12, and we were told to memorize them(and spend all class several days repeatedly, by rote regurgitating rows in the table with quizzes built to emphasize this). I didn't bother. I started seeing patterns in the numbers. Basic stuff. 5*x=half of x with a 5 on the end if x was odd. You know the patterns with 9 too, I'm sure. As a result, I never had trouble with any multiplication, even as multi-digit things started coming. But students who learned by rote, they really got stuck, right at the 3 digit multiplication.
The same problem crops up in middle school pre-algebra. They teach students a series of steps to get from mx+b=n to get to x=(n-b)/m, rather than explaining the goal, and the tools in your toolbox to get there. It was "do these things". So students who spent their study time doing those same steps over and over were simply not prepared for true algebra, and solving quadratic equations, and had to learn from the beginning again.
It's a failure of the teaching process to show that math is an elegant set of interactions of ideas, rather than a process, where the student is just a slow computer. Your or I could replace someone who's only skill is following those simple steps over and over with a simple shell script.