Unravelling the Myth Behind: "I'm not a maths person."

Harrison Cusack

22nd January, 2024

Thank you!
Mathematics has long been perceived as a formidable foe by many high school students. The phrase "I’m not a maths person" is echoed in classrooms across Australia, creating a barrier that hinders students from realising their full potential. However, the truth is that the notion of being a "maths person" is a misleading stereotype. In reality, mathematical prowess is not an innate trait; it is a skill that can be cultivated through consistent practice and dedication. In this post, we’ll debunk the myth of being a "maths person" and explore how students can take control of their mathematical journey through intentional practice.

The belief that some people are inherently "maths people", while others are not, is a prevalent misconception that has persisted for generations. In truth, mathematical ability is not predetermined at birth. Every individual has the potential to excel in maths; it's a matter of breaking through self-imposed limitations and embracing the idea that success in mathematics is attainable through hard work and perseverance.

One of the primary reasons students adopt a negative attitude toward maths is the misconception that understanding tricky mathematical concepts is an insurmountable challenge. In reality, practice plays a pivotal role in mastering maths. The more time and effort students invest in practicing mathematical problems, the more confident and proficient they become (we’ve explained exactly why this is the case here).

Practice not only reinforces understanding but also helps develop problem-solving skills and analytical thinking. By engaging in regular practice, students can enhance their ability to tackle complex problems and build a solid foundation for future mathematical concepts.

To shift the prevailing negative attitude toward maths, it is crucial to change mindsets and challenge the belief that mathematical success is reserved for a select few. Teachers, parents, and students alike must recognise that proficiency in maths is a result of effort and dedication, not an inherent trait.

Encouraging a growth mindset, where individuals believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work, is essential. Students should be reminded that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process and should be viewed as opportunities for growth rather than failures.

Rather than being born with the gift of numbers, here are a few commonalities between top students:
  1. Consistent practice: Set aside regular, dedicated time for maths practice. Consistency is key to building a strong foundation and improving overall performance.
  2. Seek help when needed: It's okay to ask for help. If a concept is challenging, seeking guidance from teachers, classmates, or online resources can provide valuable insights and clarification.
  3. Celebrate success: Recognise and celebrate small victories. If you understand a concept, however small, that’s a fantastic thing. Give yourself a pat on the back and move onto the next concept. You’ll find that positive reinforcement builds confidence.

The idea that one is not a "maths person" is a self-limiting belief that has hindered the potential of countless students. By emphasising the role of practice and instilling a growth mindset, educators and parents can empower students to overcome their fear of maths and unlock their full mathematical potential. It's time to debunk the myth and embrace the truth: anyone can master maths with dedication, perseverance, and a belief in their own ability to succeed.

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