“I’m bad at math.”
“I’m just not a math person.”
I’ve heard these words floating around too much. And I’ve joined in, too – “I suck at math.”
But is math really such a matter of talent and inherent ability?
In “The Myth of ‘I’m Bad at Math'”, Miles Kimball and Noah Smith contend that math skills are truly a product of hard work and preparation. However, more and more high schoolers are sticking to an “entity orientation” – the notion that either you are smart and good at math, or you’re not. And this leads to a vicious cycle.
Because when you believe that success can only be attained by natural aptitude, you stop trying. And when you stop trying, you fall further and further behind. And when you don’t understand something, you don’t like it.
“I hate math.”
The fact of the matter is, you’re probably not bad at math. You’ve just stopped trying. As Kim Dale so eloquently puts it in her article, “Instead of saying “I’m bad at math” tell the truth: I didn’t like math, so I quit trying to learn it.”
I can guarantee you that most of the people around you who are supposedly good at math got there through hard work and preparation; in fact, I’m one of those people. No freaking doubt there are many people much better at math than me, but I’m not BAD at math.
So if you feel like you suck at math, don’t despair. Get help when you need it and please, please don’t fall behind; it’ll be harder and harder to catch up. And if you’re already behind, it’s never too late to start catching up! Never, ever give up, because when you’ve given up on understanding math, it’s 100% certain that you won’t be good at it.
And if you’re good at math, don’t discount it. You are where you are because of work or aptitude or a combination of both, and you should be proud of yourself.