Math Shows True Feelings

Posted: June 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

I love math. As an adult, I think I’ve grown a much larger love and appreciation of math. As a teacher I’ve seen so many different feelings about math among teachers. Some teach it because they have to, some try and stay away as much as possible, then some want to understand it a little more so they can help students as much as possible.

Then I read articles like “‘I’m Not a Math Person’ Is No Longer A Valid Excuse” by Business Insider. I agree with this statement, yet I still hear it all the time.  When I’m teaching students I always change what they say when they give me an excuse on why they are not good. Something eye opening is when the parents say it as well at conference time. I start to understand why the student says it, because they’ve always heard it.

Some background on me:

  • My parents are not good at math and couldn’t help me with homework past 7th grade.
  • I received Bs and Cs on tests because I don’t well even though I had all As on assignments.
  • I dropped out of Calculus after the first semester of junior year of high school because I had a D and “I was not going to need this math as an adult”.
  • I have taught math to middle school students for a total of 4 years.

Three years ago I was thinking about math and how people felt and I took a survey. There was so much shared in the the results that I wrote several posts over it.

Over the past two years I have been teaching math to 8th graders. I continued to see the struggle that students had, which became my struggle to help them understand math more. It wasn’t always easy because so many have the thought instilled in them that they are not good at math.

Last summer I happened upon Danica McKeller’s Twitter account and learned that she is a mathematician. You may remember her as Winnie Cooper on the Wonder Years or most recently from Dancing with the Stars. As she stated on Dancing with the Stars, she has written books to help girls with math. These books are great to help explain math in today’s language and not always the words that math teachers are saying.

I guess what I’m trying to share here is that I agree with the Business Insider article that “But bad attitudes about math are holding us back.” We as educators need to be helping students understand math and see the math in the world around them. It is not a bad thing, it’s just something that “hard work and good study habits [are] important factors in improving math ability over time.”

Also, for the record, I am in the two-thirds department, I would rather do many math problems than clean clean a bathroom.

What do you think? Do teachers give the wrong impression or are we helping students go beyond their fears?

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