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July 16, 2019, 08:02:05 pm

Author Topic: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths  (Read 486 times)  Share 

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JR_StudyEd

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Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« on: June 12, 2019, 07:22:17 pm »
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You've heard it all before:

"I'm gonna fail". "I'm never going to understand this, no matter how hard I try". "I'm just not a Maths person and I never will be". "He/she is so good at Maths, I'll never be like him/her". "Well, he/she is just naturally gifted and I'm not, so what's the point of even trying?". "I'm not a robot. How can I derive this in 5 seconds". "I feel like absolute trash. Why does maths always find a new and wonderful way to ruin my day AND my self-esteem"*

*These may, or may not all be thoughts that I've had in the past, or right now. Plz help me.

a) Are these myths? (The ones about not understanding and not bothering, and the ones about natural aptitude) To what extent are they true?
b) How can I cope with such widely-held attitudes towards Maths, especially as one who is not naturally gifted?
c) I know I can't control everything, but is it true that some students are just naturally gifted in Maths? As someone who certainly is not naturally gifted, how do I cope?
d) What other common attitudes have you seen regarding Maths over the years?

« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 07:30:34 pm by JR_StudyEd »
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laura_

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2019, 07:33:28 pm »
+6
You've heard it all before:

"I'm gonna fail". "I'm never going to understand this, no matter how hard I try". "I'm just not a Maths person and I never will be". "He/she is so good at Maths, I'll never be like him/her". "Well, he/she is just naturally gifted and I'm not, so what's the point of even trying?". "I'm not a robot. How can I derive this in 5 seconds". "I feel like absolute trash. Why does maths always find a new and wonderful way to ruin my day AND my self-esteem"*

*These may, or may not all be thoughts that I've had in the past, or right now. Plz help me.

a) Are these myths? To what extent are they true?
b) How can I cope with such widely-held attitudes towards Maths, especially as one who is not naturally gifted?
c) I know I can't control everything, but is it true that some students are just naturally gifted in Maths? As someone who certainly is not naturally gifted, how do I cope?

Hello hello!
I am only in Year 10 in the methods/spesh stream at my school, and I hear this a lot in my class. A lot of my friends assume that I am naturally gifted at maths because I understand the content in class and get good marks, but it takes a lot of hard work that they don't see. I think that believing that just because someone seems to be better at maths means that it is natural for them or that you cannot achieve that is unhealthy.

I always ask my teacher what the next topic is ahead of time and before I go into a class I have read up on it and made some notes as well as tried questions. This is so that when the teacher explains it, I already have a basic understanding. Our school has a drop in maths-help program three times a week and I am there every day, asking a million questions.

I think that a subject like maths takes a lot of work and that no one is really a "natural maths person". For me, when people start talking so negatively I just take a deep breath and zone out of the conversation. I find the way that students talk can be really unhelpful and often makes me doubt myself and my abilities.

Once I figured out that "naturally gifted" was not enough to get you through class and realised that hard work is what actually gets good grades, I started doing a lot better. Anyway... I definitely think that those myths are unhealthy. Do you really think the people getting good grades (even if they claim that they don't) don't study or work hard? I know that is definitely not the case for me but would love to hear what you think.

Sorry this is so rambly,
Laura
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JR_StudyEd

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2019, 08:40:26 pm »
0
Hello hello!
I am only in Year 10 in the methods/spesh stream at my school, and I hear this a lot in my class. A lot of my friends assume that I am naturally gifted at maths because I understand the content in class and get good marks, but it takes a lot of hard work that they don't see. I think that believing that just because someone seems to be better at maths means that it is natural for them or that you cannot achieve that is unhealthy.

I always ask my teacher what the next topic is ahead of time and before I go into a class I have read up on it and made some notes as well as tried questions. This is so that when the teacher explains it, I already have a basic understanding. Our school has a drop in maths-help program three times a week and I am there every day, asking a million questions.

I think that a subject like maths takes a lot of work and that no one is really a "natural maths person". For me, when people start talking so negatively I just take a deep breath and zone out of the conversation. I find the way that students talk can be really unhelpful and often makes me doubt myself and my abilities.

Once I figured out that "naturally gifted" was not enough to get you through class and realised that hard work is what actually gets good grades, I started doing a lot better. Anyway... I definitely think that those myths are unhealthy. Do you really think the people getting good grades (even if they claim that they don't) don't study or work hard? I know that is definitely not the case for me but would love to hear what you think.

Sorry this is so rambly,
Laura
Laura, this is brilliant. Thanks for your wonderful insight!  :)

What's this "drop-in Maths help program" you speak of? What's its purpose? Do many students taking maths at your school use this? Because I think something like that at my school will benefit many!

In terms of your question, I too used to think that the higher-achieving students in my Maths classes hardly studied. When it came to Maths Methods, I sort of questioned that a little bit as the workload ramped up. I got concerned that I was the only one that found the content and doing practice questions a struggle. What helped me was reaching out to one of these high-achievers. I found out that they too struggle at times. And they definitely put a lot of work in!
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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2019, 08:41:47 pm »
+6
10000% agree with what Laura said above! Methods is no easy subject, but with enough effort, perseverance, and also smart studying strategies you can do just as well, and in fact even better than someone who was born with maths genes littered in their DNA.

a) Are these myths? YES THEY ARE. This sounds horribly cliched, but your mindset is what's ultimately holding you back, not your abilities. Yes, there are people who seem more natural with maths and STEM subjects overall, but unless they work hard their gifts can only get them so far.

b) I'd say first thing first is to stop repeating to yourself that you're not naturally good at maths. Say it enough times and you'd end up trapped in that mindset. Next, shut out opinions that aren't going to help you improve with maths. If you spend time with people who despise maths to the core, you aren't gonna get any better. Instead, talk to people who like math and listen to what they have to say.

c) Duuuude! C'mon, let's stop with the 'I'm not naturally gifted at maths' thing. ;D
I totally get you. I never thought of myself as a maths person, English / humanities / arts is where my heart lie. But you have to have some faith in yourself!
Again, yes some people are naturally gifted at maths but their natural gifts can only get them so far, and it's not gonna get them a raw 40 in methods if they don't work hard to develop their gifts.

d) There's someone in my class who uses Maths Quest as a pillow. I aspire to be like him.
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Sine

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 08:55:39 pm »
+3
You've heard it all before:

"I'm gonna fail". "I'm never going to understand this, no matter how hard I try". "I'm just not a Maths person and I never will be". "He/she is so good at Maths, I'll never be like him/her". "Well, he/she is just naturally gifted and I'm not, so what's the point of even trying?". "I'm not a robot. How can I derive this in 5 seconds". "I feel like absolute trash. Why does maths always find a new and wonderful way to ruin my day AND my self-esteem"*

*These may, or may not all be thoughts that I've had in the past, or right now. Plz help me.

a) Are these myths? (The ones about not understanding and not bothering, and the ones about natural aptitude) To what extent are they true?
b) How can I cope with such widely-held attitudes towards Maths, especially as one who is not naturally gifted?
c) I know I can't control everything, but is it true that some students are just naturally gifted in Maths? As someone who certainly is not naturally gifted, how do I cope?
d) What other common attitudes have you seen regarding Maths over the years?


a) I would both agree and disagree with this
- I believe anyone can improve on anything if they put the effort in (maths included)
- However, if you consider someone "gifted" if they also put in the same effort as others it is likely they are going to do better  (unless they max out on 100s since there is a cap)

b) I feel doing really well on just one test can be a really good catalyst for further overall improvement - Anecdotally from some friends who wouldn't/don't care too much for maths and weren't necessarily wanting high ATARs (only did further maths with not much reasoning to it) - once they scored well on one test it is good motivation to continue that standard.

c) Honestly idk and I don't think anyone can say for certain since there will be so many confounding factors but I do perceive that some people just to have natural affinities to certain things in life.


« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 09:01:27 pm by Sine »

laura_

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2019, 12:10:03 pm »
0
What's this "drop-in Maths help program" you speak of? What's its purpose? Do many students taking maths at your school use this? Because I think something like that at my school will benefit many!

The drop in program runs officially three times a week, (although unofficially certain teachers still run it every lunchtime). On Mondays and Wednesday at lunch as well as after school for two hours on a Friday, a large classroom is available for anyone who wants to study for maths or get homework done. It is staffed by three maths teachers (they have a rotating schedule) and on Friday there are also some past students who help out.

Basically, people just bring what they're doing and work on it. There are whiteboards around so some people choose to work in groups. When people have a question they can flag down a teacher. Some students come with a list of problems they struggled with to work through with a teacher.

And yes, a lot of students use it. It is in a classroom with 48 desks (two classrooms that have a partition that can be easily removed and often there are still students sitting on the floor.
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Joseph41

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 05:06:45 pm »
+3
Don't know if completely relevant, but your question prompts in the OP reminded me of this:


I really recommend watching it if you get the chance. If you have limited time, try 8.58 - 9.47 or thereabouts. :) Let me know what you think!
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Remy33

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2019, 05:08:00 pm »
+1
Don't know if completely relevant, but your question prompts in the OP reminded me of this:


I really recommend watching it if you get the chance. If you have limited time, try 8.58 - 9.47 or thereabouts. :) Let me know what you think!

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Joseph41

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2019, 05:23:53 pm »
0
Eddie Woo the legend himself!!

I'm not even interested in maths, and I still play some of his videos as background noise when I'm working haha. Really like his manner.
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JR_StudyEd

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2019, 04:28:26 pm »
0
Don't know if completely relevant, but your question prompts in the OP reminded me of this:
Let me know what you think!
What an inspirational guy. He loves maths and is unashamed of it. Too bad he isn't my maths teacher.

I can appreciate that maths is beautiful and has many real-world applications. In fact, what would we be able to do today without the power of maths? Not a lot, I would think. It's just that in class, I find it difficult to perceive maths as a beautiful subject. Particularly in Maths Methods (idk about other maths subjects), my brain perceives what we are being taught as some undecipherable alien language. Hence why I think that maths is incompatible with my brain, and that I can't really do anything about it.

ANALOGY: Imagine a wheel being spun around before every maths class. There are two options on the wheel, yes or no. If the wheel lands on yes, then great, I understand the maths being taught. But if it lands on no, then that's just too bad. Might as well give up, because I'll never understand. Excuse my fixed mindset, but this, I think, is the accumulation of all my years of experience with Maths, and it's just come to this. Whether I learn something in class or not, it feels like complete and utter luck.

And I've tried and kept trying, but once again, I'm at the point of wanting to give up and forget I ever studied Maths. It's unfortunate that a subject so beautiful as Mathematics is reduced to the abstractness of Maths Methods. I know it's beautiful, it's just that what is beautiful about it is outside the scope of the study design.

I'm not only frustrated, but infuriated due to my lack of understanding of maths. I know I can't just cruise through this subject and expect to do well, but I think my mind has taken one too many beatings at the hands of maths.
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Meddling

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2019, 12:06:28 am »
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I believe that, these 'naturally gifted people' are most likely those who have been taught maths at a younger age than the average population and hence know the stuff before it is even taught in school! So, when the school goes through them, it is a revision for them.

It could also be because they have a solid foundation in the basics of mathematics, and can build on such foundation for harder and more complex concepts of mathematics.

There is an interesting theory called Gardner's multiple intelligences theory, and it basically says every individual possess different type of intelligence (there are 8 types of intelligence). There is one called Logical-mathematical intelligence, and these people may also be the 'naturally gifted' which you speak of!

And I've tried and kept trying, but once again, I'm at the point of wanting to give up and forget I ever studied Maths. It's unfortunate that a subject so beautiful as Mathematics is reduced to the abstractness of Maths Methods. I know it's beautiful, it's just that what is beautiful about it is outside the scope of the study design.

I'm wondering in which applications do you find mathematics beautiful? (e.g. probability, calculus, trigonometry)

The things taught in methods are actually one of the most fundamental, and basic concept for complex concepts that are widely used across different fields, and knowing these are crucial for topics beyond the methods course. So, I think that Maths Methods shouldn't be defined as 'abstract'.

In universities, they continue mathematics education from the materials taught in methods and specialist for very interesting applications which you can finally apply to the real world!

Also, what topic do you struggle with in Methods? I may be able to lend a hand :)
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 12:09:07 am by Meddling »
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JR_StudyEd

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2019, 12:37:08 pm »
+1
One of the worst things is, I feel like I'm struggling with the entire course, so much to the point that even my understanding of the simpler topics begins to fall apart. I know it's probably not as bad as it seems, but just the thought of having to do the Methods exams makes me wince in pain. It's painful. So what can I do about it?

I'm sorry if this comes across as overly whingy and complain-y.
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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2019, 04:20:23 pm »
0
One of the worst things is, I feel like I'm struggling with the entire course, so much to the point that even my understanding of the simpler topics begins to fall apart. I know it's probably not as bad as it seems, but just the thought of having to do the Methods exams makes me wince in pain. It's painful. So what can I do about it?

Don't apologise! Lots of us can sympathise with feeling like this. Do you have a tutor? If you feel as though you are struggling that much, it might be a good place to start. There are also options for free tutoring and drop-in help at local libraries. Tutors can be a good resource for general help.

If you have specific questions or want your teacher to understand how you feel, perhaps try sending them an email or arrange a time to meet with them.

You could also chat to some of your classmates. I'm sure you're not the only one feeling like this!
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Remy33

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Re: Debunking widely-held myths about Maths
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2019, 10:03:16 pm »
0
One of the worst things is, I feel like I'm struggling with the entire course, so much to the point that even my understanding of the simpler topics begins to fall apart. I know it's probably not as bad as it seems, but just the thought of having to do the Methods exams makes me wince in pain. It's painful. So what can I do about it?

I'm sorry if this comes across as overly whingy and complain-y.

The good thing is you're acknowledging the issue. I relate to the maths anxiety lol (one look at my subjects tells you that I am NOT a maths person at all). I cope with this "maths anxiety" by spending a lot of time with people who likes maths, which more or less fools my brain into thinking that I like maths. Fake it till you make it, I guess.

Also getting on top of everything works wonders. I started feeling less resentful towards methods once I did all the work set and made sure I had one concept consolidated before moving on to the next. Something for you to try?

Good luck mate, we're in this together.
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