Many times, we hear phrases from teachers and students such as “I am not good at math.” “Math was (is) a very hard subject for me.” It has become socially acceptable to say, “I hate math!” Why do some people have these limiting beliefs of themselves as doers or learners of mathematics?
For the past year, my colleagues and I have worked diligently with teachers and young children with the goal of changing the narrative from a negative perception to a positive one that promotes statements such as “I love math!” “I enjoy being given challenging problems in which to think about,” and “I consider myself a mathematician.”
My personal goal is to have our earliest learners see the beauty of mathematics from the onset of their educational careers and it is my hope that I can change the math narrative of adults as well.
So how do we do this? Perhaps these quotes can help those who are math phobic, or just a bit apprehensive, change their existing beliefs and mindsets about themselves as learners and doers of mathematics, change their math story, and possibility change their lives.
As a learner of mathematics, we must be open to the fact that the mathematics we encounter may be hard, we may experience frustration, we may even want to give up. If we acknowledge this discomfort we will be more likely to persevere and see ourselves as learners and doers of mathematics.
If we can face our fears of math, whether a concept or a course, head on, with courage and an “I can do it” attitude, the better the chances that fear you overcame can be the driving focus (courage) to push yourself further on your mathematical journey.
So many times, we give up (exercising daily, eating healthy, taking higher level math courses) not because we are weak, but because of the feelings we experienced while engaged in the activity. Consider ways to take those feelings and use them as the catalyst to try just one more time.
As an early learning advocate, it is my hope, my calling, to create the conditions that promote early learning math experiences via play. Let’s consider how rich play experiences allow children to be risk-takers, and how we, the adults, can offer encouragement, pose open-ended questions, and open a world full of possibilities for children to explore. “Play is serious work!”
I would venture to say this is a quote many are familiar with. So, as you think of your upcoming math lessons, what might you do to create conditions that promote active learning, those in which students are physically, mentally, and emotional engaged in to change the narrative, shaping the brains of our future mathematicians?
As you may have read in my previous blogs, I like using quotes to begin conversations. If any of these five resonated with you I invite you to start a conversation with me and other readers by leaving a comment or posing a question.
Together we can change our math stories and the math stories of children with whom we work.
Let’s change the narrative together.