October 30, 2013

"I'm just bad at math..." it's a myth!

When I first started teaching, I began to encounter the "I'm just bad at math..." comment from a variety of students. I didn't find it helpful to the situation, but what was I to do?  I wasn't in their head... maybe they really did have math deficit disorder, but it sure seemed like the large part of my students who would use this phrase, seemed to connect it with their inability to get their homework completed.

The longer I taught, the more I began to see a connection.  I even noticed that those students who were typically labeled the "math people" were also very diligent in their work.

Now, I know that we live in a society that isn't allowed to make a judgment call on anybody for any reason, so even talking this way tends to ruffle some feathers.  My response is that you should stop judging me by calling me judgmental!  But that is a different blog post, I just want to share an article about this myth of "bad at math" that is plaguing our nation.

The article is titled, The Myth of 'I'm Bad At Math' and it's subtitle is: Basic ability in the subject isn't the product of good genes, but hard work.

There is much in the article that I found to be worth reading, but I want to at least quote the final paragraph, because I believe that it holds a key thought that is impacting all of us.
Math education, we believe, is just the most glaring area of a slow and worrying shift. We see our country moving away from a culture of hard work toward a culture of belief in genetic determinism. In the debate between “nature vs. nurture,” a critical third element—personal perseverance and effort—seems to have been sidelined. We want to bring it back, and we think that math is the best place to start.
Let's not forget the key third element to our intellects.