Does the popular view of maths as being difficult lead to lack of confidence in performing mathematics?
In an insightful article published on 14 October 2017 the blogger ‘Solve My Maths’. He writes about how the popular view of mathematics creates an unrealistic perception of its practitioners that is impossible for anyone to fulfil. He goes on to suggest that it is time to develop a more realistic idea of maths that ‘gives permission’ for anyone who ‘does’ maths to be able to consider themselves a ‘mathematician’ You can read the whole article by clicking the link directly below.
Source: Identity | Solve My Maths
Reading the article by ‘Solve My Maths’ made me wonder if such a change in perception would also improve the confidence of students to ‘do maths’ that so many seem to lack. You can read my response below.
Lack of confidence is not the same as lacking capability
A realistic level of critical awareness of how you can perform a task is a useful talent. It can provide both incentive and a direction to self-improvement. However, taken too far, self-criticism ceases to inspire improvement but actively work against it.
Many students lack confidence in performing mathematics not because they are unskilled or unable to learn but because they underestimate the value of their effort and talent while overestimating that of others. In making this comparison, the student always comes off second best.
Maths isn’t an easy subject, and we have to be realistic how we view it and encourage our students to do likewise. ‘Solve My Maths’ points out in his article – maths is such a vast subject, and nobody can be fully conversant in all it fields. Any attempt by anyone to measure their success against that of others is meaningless and probably counter-productive.
Have you achieved your personal best?
Encourage the student to recognise the value of their skill and not compare it with the skills of others. Not all athletes are capable of world records, but all athletes are capable of personal bests.