You have probably heard a secondary school student say to you: “I am not a Math person”, and you felt that statement is familiar. You hear this statement every time a student struggles with a Math problem or even among art students. This begs the question of who is a Math person?
In a similar vein, some students cannot draw a cup to save their lives, but you do not hear them say to everyone, “I am not an art person”. In fact, such students are often willing to try their hand at drawing to have a good laugh about themselves.
It is high time we demystified mathematics by understanding how our actions affect students’ perception of the subject. This is particularly important for girls and art students.
There are certain attitudes that we project as a society that negatively affect students’ view about mathematics. We pass on the narrative that “Math is hard” to children; mothers tell their children that fathers are better at Math; and in school, we place high-achieving students in science classes, sometimes against the students’ wish.
We can help struggling students to realize that it is okay to spend time understanding a Math problem and that there is no Math person in the real sense.