Math ability isn’t written on a person’s genes, in opposition to the popularly held idea. In spite of major evidence to the contrary, the reoccurring notion in many parts of the world is that some people are born with superb math ability, while others don’t have much at all.
For high-school math, inborn talent's much less important than hard work, preparation & self-confidence
The vicious cycle that dictates math ability
Students are taught that it’s okay to say “I’m not a math person”When students are getting help from their parents with math homework, it’s not uncommon for the student to hear “I’m no good at math” or “I’m not a math person.” Sometimes students might even hear this from their teacher. When students hear such phrases from trusted adults, they believe it.
The rise of STEM and the importance of math abilityOne of the most significant currents of thought in education and policy circles these days concerns the rise of the so-called STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The majority of high-paying jobs in the modern economy are in one of these four fields. Of these, mathematics is probably the master discipline.
Good news: Math ability CAN be for everyone
This idea, that math ability isn’t an inherent trait given to students at birth, is being given a huge focus in schools these days. Students are being taught that instead of saying, “I don’t understand this question,” they should be saying “I don’t understand this question yet. It’s a subtle difference, but one that makes all the difference.
This subtle difference is called the growth mindset, the polar opposite to a fixed mindset. With a growth mindset, students understand that their abilities can be nurtured and developed. They begin to understand that their minds are malleable and that persistence, intelligence, and motivation can all be learnt. These attitudes do wonders for a learning child.
Carol Dweck, the psychologist behind this change in thinking, has studied people across subjects and grade levels and has found time and again that having a growth mindset has a direct impact on a student's achievement.
The bottom line is — the popular attitude needs to change. People must realize math ability is just like literacy — virtually anyone, regardless of genetic makeup or social background, can succeed at it. The difference between people who are great at math and people who struggle with it is the amount of time, effort, practice, patience, and confidence they invest in it.
How can we better support children who are not confident in their math abilities and change the "I'm not a math person." mentality?
Zorbit's Math Adventure is a fun and engaging online math game, currently available for kindergarten and grade 1 teachers and students. This adaptive, game-based learning program will improve your student's experiences with math, increase their level of understanding and performance, and will allow you to view your entire class's game performance from a high-level overview.