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Topic: The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math'
Replies: 2   Last Post: Nov 6, 2013 3:13 AM

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Clyde Greeno @ MALEI

Posts: 220
Registered: 9/13/10
Re: The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math'
Posted: Nov 5, 2013 6:29 PM
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This thread is running far away from the point of the article ... its
rhetorical weaknesses notwithstanding. The "myth" of which it speaks is a
person-by-person conviction of the individual, that he or she does not have
a "non-mathematical mind."

It stems from regarding "mathematics" as being the kind of things that the
learner encountered in school/college courses that were labeled
"mathematics" ... and from rationally floundering with that school-kind of
"mathematics." Those scholastic experiences ... so labeled ... literally
*define* whatever the word, "mathematics", means for students. In reality,
it is a belief that he/she does not have the kind of mind that can
effectively and efficiently learn THAT kind of *school mathematics*.

Closely associated with the article is students' beliefs that being "good at
math" equates with easily earning good grades in such "school math" ... even
though the "school math" may be non-sensible, irrational, parrot-training to
perform test-items. Many victims of severe "math anxiety" suffer from being
too mathematical for how they are being "taught."

In the research-oriented, MALEI Mathematical Learning Clinic we have found
that a major cause for students being "no good at math" is that they are TOO
good at math. The students who appear to be "really good at math" often are
students who are really good only at programming themselves to execute
data-processing routines ... and at regurgitating dialog ... in ways that
result in high scores. But there are other students whose minds so insist
on knowing the content-meanings of the jargon ... and on grasping the
mathematical common-sensibility of the concepts, facts, and processes ...
that their minds are unwilling to play mathematical blind man's bluff well,
if at all. In some very extreme cases, they were "assessed" as being
mathematically retarded because they were too theoretical to digest the
garbage fed to them by the drill-&-kill workbooks.

The non-myth is that most students sooner or later flounder with *that* kind
of "mathematics" ... revealing that , in fact, they are "no good at [that
school kind of] mathematics" ... even if very good at some for-real
mathematics that they do not recognize as being "mathematics" (as defined by
their scholastic experiences).

No myth: lots of people are "bad at math" [school math and real math].
Widespread myth: finding it difficult to earn high scores in courses or on
tests that someone calls "mathematics" is a sign of low aptitude? NOT SO. To
the contrary, it might be a sign of a creative, analytic, rational-learning,
theoristic, mathematical mind that cannot cope with mathematically
non-sensible "mathematics" curricula. You will never find students who have
strong reading/writing skills who also are lacking in mathematical aptitude
... even if they cannot pass the usual first course in high school algebra.
[Make that course fully common-sensible, and they can sail through it.]

- --------------------------------------------------
From: "Louis Talman" <talmanl@gmail.com>
Sent: Tuesday, November 05, 2013 10:29 AM
To: "Robert Hansen" <bob@rsccore.com>
Cc: <math-teach@mathforum.org>
Subject: Re: The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math'

> On Tue, 05 Nov 2013 06:58:20 -0700, Robert Hansen <bob@rsccore.com> wrote:
>

>> I don't understand the question.:)
>
> Denying that there's a problem is one approach.
>
> - --Louis A. Talman
> Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences
> Metropolitan State University of Denver
>
> <http://rowdy.msudenver.edu/~talmanl>




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