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  • Writer's pictureCarrie S. Cutler

I Was Not a Math Super Star in School

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Growing up, maybe you felt like I did--that math was reserved for just a few kids in the class. The brainy kids. The boys. The ones born good at it. The ones with parents who were doctors. The ones who wanted to be scientists when they grew up. The ones who found it came easily to them.

Or maybe someone (an adult you trusted even) told you that you were more of a creative person or a language arts person or an artist or a writer. How could you be a math person if you were THAT person?

Guess what...YOU are a math person.

--Here I am in 7th grade. Notice the pegged pants created by the visible elastic.

--forehead slap!

Research has debunked the long-held myth that only a select few individuals are “good at math.” Everyone can do mathematics.

Still, too many people fool themselves into thinking that they must be born with a mathematical mind. That only nerds can do math. That making mistakes means you’re not good at math. That struggling to understand math means it’s a lost cause.

Enough already!

When I was in 7th grade, my mom noticed math was causing me new-found anxiety. In elementary school, I'd easily memorized things, followed procedures meticulously, and got good math grades. But when I got to algebra in 7th grade, something didn't click. Or at least I thought it didn't. So, my mom suggested I get extra help understanding math from a competent tutor who helped me talk through challenging problems, explained concepts, gave me extra work to practice, and helped build my confidence.

Since then, I've ALWAYS had a math tutor. Through high school, college, my master's degree stats classes, even my doctorate-level algebraic reasoning courses. I recognized that understanding math is better than just getting by.

So, here's my challenge to you. Adopt this mantra:

Recognizing that something is hard is not a sign of weakness; it is the first step in intentional persistence. #MathPositiveMonday

Sometimes math IS hard. And that's okay. Lots of things are hard. Parenting, marriage, jobs, pandemics, choosing carrots over carrot cake. It's okay to recognize things take work, perseverance, and grit to get 'er done.

In this video, I explain how parents can overcome personal math anxiety and become their child's math cheerleader and support. It's only 2 minutes long and could give you a whole new mindset. Check it out!

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