How to ensure that each student believes they are a ‘math person’
by PRP Group, on 08/14/2023
We live in a country with many people who say, “I’m not a math person.” This is a myth we tell ourselves—we are all math people; we may just not have had the opportunity to learn math in school the way our brain is naturally designed to learn. The human brain innately thinks of math at high levels, and children are born naturally curious, powerful mathematical thinkers.
Unfortunately, some teachers unintentionally condition that natural curiosity out of students. For example, when my elementary-aged daughter was trying to make sense of multiplication she experienced confusion—not knowing that it is a natural part of being curious and a necessary condition for learning. This was a great opportunity for her teacher to harness her curiosity and increase her depth of understanding of what is happening when we think multiplicatively with pictures, words, numbers and symbols.
Unfortunately, her teacher stopped her curiosity and told her it was OK to find it hard and confusing because “Girls are usually better at reading and writing and boys are usually better at math.” That kind of message reinforces the myth that math is for some people, but not everyone. It halted her desire to wonder and make sense of the math.