Friday, September 17, 2010

Beliefs and Attitudes about Mathematics

What beliefs and attitudes about mathematics do you see in your students, in society, in the media, and elsewhere? Try and think of both positive and negative beliefs and attitudes. These can be beliefs that you agree or disagree with. I'll start with a few, but please add your own in the comments.
  • If you're good at math, math problems can be solved in a relatively short amount of time.
  • People do not solve math problems for fun; they do it for school, for their job, or to balance their checkbook.
  • Every math problem has been solved by someone.
  • Math is about numbers.
  • Math is a language to describe the world.
  • If you are good at math, you are smart.
  • If you can do computations accurately and quickly, you are good at math.
  • People who are good at math are eccentric and/or not socially adept.
  • Boys are good at math.
  • Asians are good at math.
  • There can only be one correct answer.
  • If I don't know how to solve a homework problem, I must be doing something wrong.
  • Math topics/classes are sequential; I need to understand A before I can learn B.
  • It is socially acceptable to say you're bad at math.
  • Math is more analytical than creative.
  • Using a procedure correctly to get the right answer is more important than understanding why the procedure works
  • With current technology, arithmetic is not important.
  • To be an engineer, you need to be computationally strong.
  • Math is a gatekeeper.
  • The value of math is in its connection to real world applications.
  • Math teachers sleep under their desk at school. 
Ok, I guess that was more than "a few".  Hopefully I left some for everyone else.


  1. I'm only in the very early stages of a midlife career change into math education, so take these for what they're worth:

    • That math is an entirely left brain activity. I guess that relates to "analytic vs. creative," but is a little more encompassing (for example, detail oriented vs. holistic).
    • That you only get one chance to "get it" and if you don't get it then, you're hosed.
    • If you like math, you can't also like sports or art.
    • That there's only one way to learn math.

    In my experience, these are mostly adult attitudes toward math, based on friends I have that are taking supplemental math classes as part of college humanities degrees.

  2. •If you like math, you are boring.
    •Math isn't fun; it's work.
    •Ideas in math should come easily; if you don't understand them right away, then you shouldn't bother.
    •If you work hard, you can be good at math.
    •Math = computations. Anything else isn't "real math".
    •Math people like doing calculations (so they'll gladly split the bill at happy hour).

  3. Great blog, Avery!

    You're probably already aware of this, but your "Habits of Mind" post was mentioned/endorsed on a podcast. They have linked to it on their site. I'm sure I won't be the only one arriving here through this link and liking what I find.

  4. - Math is not a religion.
    - Math is only good for finding truth in mathematics systems.
    - Math is a human endeavor.
    - Math is what mathematicians do.

  5. Well, as a computer science teaching assistant I did sleep under my desk from time to time

  6. "Using a procedure correctly to get the right answer is more important than understanding why the procedure works"

    This is something I am constantly confronted with in every one of my classes from Algebra 1 through IB HL year 2. It's one of my greatest frustrations and the recipient of most of my planning and thought cycles.

    If there could ever be a magic bullet to solve this one I'd buy a whole carton. But that's just it, learning is such an individual and dynamic process that there could never be just one solution to such a problem.

    Only 30 more years until retirement... I think I still have time to work on this one.

  7. If you're interesting in reading more about society's perception of what it means to be good at math, check out Research in Practice's post about "The Talent Lie"

  8. Cathy reminded me of another one:

    -The math we do in math class is different from the math we do in real life.

  9. * if math doesn't have an immediate real-world application, it's not worth learning.
    * the best math class is one where everyone is the same level
    * the best math students do problems quickly
    * people who do problems quickly are the best math students.
    * It is socially acceptable to say, "You'll never need to know this later" about math class.

    I'm sure I have more, but you've hit most of mine already.

  10. a couple more:
    * Calculus is the holy grail of mathematics. Ultimately, every math teacher should strive try to prepare students for calculus.
    * If you have not done well in math, it's because you don't have a gift for math. Being successful in math is dependent on a gift more than it is dependent on persistence.

  11. There are more negative beliefs and attitudes than positive ones, whether the contributors are teachers, parents, or students.

    Here are things I wish I'd known earlier:

    - Great literature and math overlap like rich tapestries of Venn diagrams. Poetry alone has cinquain, limerick, quatrain, and sestina.
    - The harmonic scale used to make beautiful music (and other music, too, in all fairness) is based on math. Think of it as auditory math.
    - People who love sports love math...and don't even realize it (football analyst Bill James uses a Pythagorean formula, for example, to determine expected W-L).
    - Basic road construction techniques account for changes in grade/elevation using the same geometric diagrams found in a high school textbook.
    - Math is fun, when it's called Sudoku.

  12. These are awesome! Thanks for all the input and ideas. It's amazing that this has been floating around for 4 days now and there's still room for people to add new ones where my first reaction is "oh yeah, definitely."

  13. - Math is about learning a strange series of bizarre incantations which, when applied in the specified order, lead to correct answers that are as meaningless as the questions were.

    - Each type of problem has a specific way of solving it.

    - The idea of writing a paper in math is silly.

  14. -Math is always useful
    -Math is everywhere
    -Everyone can do Math
    -Math doesn't require proper English
    -Math is always true.
    -Math is about formulas

  15. This is such a great list. I have some favorites. Some have been said but in q diffferent way:
    *I'm a math person, not English and vice versa.
    *You have to know your math facts.
    *All math people are geeks.

    Thanks for starting the discussion!

  16. Biologists don't need to understand math.
    Math is about numbers
    (for me it's about pictures)

    Great blog, btw. There is so much here I resonate with, as a microbiologist who uses math, and who teaches graduate students.

  17. My favorite from parents is:
    *My child isn't good at math because I wasn't.

    From students:
    *I'm not good at math because my parent wasn't.

  18. Math has to be done in pencil not pen. (We have to erase our mistakes)

    A person has to build skills in order to learn math

    Algebra is something done in 8th grade or high school, certainly not in kindergarten

    Every skill in math has to be explicitly taught

  19. I know I need to make a choice, I can't be good in math and art. But maybe it does't real matter, you can't make a living off either one.

  20. Well, sh*t, AdventureSkool. I must be totally effed--I'm a math teacher and a writer on the side. :)

  21. Crypto-currency as a modern form of the digital asset has received a worldwide acclaim for easy and faster financial transactions and its awareness among people have allowed them to take more interest in the field thus opening up new and advanced ways of making payments. Referral Code with the growing demand of this global phenomenon more,new traders and business owners are now willing to invest in this currency platform despite its fluctuating prices however it is quite difficult to choose the best one when the market is full. In the list of crypto-currencies bit-coins is one of the oldest and more popular Referral Code for the last few years. It is basically used for trading goods and services and has become the part of the so-called computerized block-chain system allowing anyone to use it thus increasing the craze among the public, Referral Code.

    Common people who are willing to purchase BTC can use an online wallet system for buying them safely in exchange of cash or credit cards and in a comfortable way from the thousands of BTC foundations around the world and keep them as assets for the future. Due to its popularity, many corporate investors are now accepting them as cross-border payments and the rise is unstoppable. With the advent of the internet and mobile devices,information gathering has become quite easy as a result the BTC financial transactions are accessible and its price is set in accordance with people’s choice and preferences thus leading to a profitable investment with Referral Code. Recent surveys have also proved that instability is good for BTC exchange as if there is instability and political unrest in the country due to which banks suffer then investing in BTC can surely be a better option. Again bit-coin transaction fees are pretty cheaper and a more convenient technology for making contracts thus attracting the crowd. The BTC can also be converted into different fiat currencies and is used for trading of securities, for land titles, document stamping, public rewards and vice versa.

    Another advanced block-chain project is Ethereumor the ETH which has served much more than just a digital form of crypto-currency Referral Code and its popularity in the last few decades have allowed billions of people to hold wallets for them. With the ease of the online world,the ETH have allowed the retailers and business organizations to accept them for trading purposes, therefore, can serve as the future of the financial system.

  22. Crystal online pharmacy is a trusted online drug store with a wide range of products to suit the needs of our clients. Buy Cialis online Crystal Pharmacy do strive to offer the best service and ship products world wide. All the products listed on our website are Ava in stock. Expect your order to be processed Immediately when you send us your request. We deal with varieties of drugs for our customers satisfaction. We cross barriers with our products and struggle hard to meet human satisfaction. When shopping with us, Be safe and secured and you will realize how swift we are with our services.

  23. Universal Gun sales is a trusted Firearm company base in Los Angeles California USA. It is one of the top Firearms Company in this part of the country. Buy Browning Maxus Hunter semiautomatic shotgun online They do offer the best firearms deal in the USA and to over 25 countries in the world. You can always visit their shop in Los Angeles using the address on their website. Place your order and get served by the best Firearm Company in the planet. Have fun.

  24. 국내 최고 스포츠 토토, 바카라, 우리카지노, 바이너리 옵션 등 검증완료된 메이져 온라인게임 사이트 추천해 드립니다. 공식인증업체, 먹튀 검증 완료된 오라인 사이트만 한 곳에 모아 추천해 드립니다 - 카지노 사이트 - 바카라 사이트 - 안전 놀이터 - 사설 토토 - 카지노 솔루션.

    온라인 카지노, 바카라, 스포츠 토토, 바이너리 옵션 등 온라인 게임의 최신 정보를 제공해 드립니다.

    탑 카지노 게임즈에서는 이용자 분들의 안전한 이용을 약속드리며 100% 신뢰할 수 있고 엄선된 바카라, 스포츠 토토, 온라인 카지노, 바이너리 옵션 게임 사이트 만을 추천해 드립니다.

  25. 토토사이트 이용을 하다 보면 먹튀 피해에 대한 두려움이 갑자기 생기거나 두려움을 가지고 이용하는 경우가 대반사입니다. 토토마추자는 그러한 두려움을 없애드리기 위해 만들어진 먹튀검증커뮤니티 입니다. 다양한 검증 활동을 통하여 축적된 데이터로 방문해 주시는 모든 회원님들께 무료로 제공해드리고 있습니다. 토토사이트를 이용 하는 회원님들은 메이저사이트를 이용하고 싶은 마음이 크다는 걸 알 수 있습니다. 하지만 해당 토토사이트가 메이저인지 아닌지 확인할 방법은 민간인에게 어려움이 있다는 걸 알 수 있습니다. 이용전 꼭 토토마추자를 통하여 먹튀검증 서비스를 받아보시기 바랍니다안전놀이터.
    국내에 합법 토토사이트는 배트맨토토 에서 발매하는 정식서비스만 이용을 할 수 있으나 배팅금액 제한이 있기에 우후죽순 사설토토사이트가 생겨나고 있습니다. 대체적으로 이를 방지를 하려면 배트맨토토 자체에서 배팅금액 한도를 늘리는 수밖에 없다고 생각됩니다.

  26. Diseñamos la página web para que tu empresa tenga una imagen digital profesional 24/7 y sea más fácil que te ubiquen online, puedan conocer tu oferta de productos, servicios, que logren contactarte de una forma más rápida y fácil.
    Nuestras páginas web son visualmente atractivas, tienen un diseño web responsive para ser visualizadas en un dispositivo móvil, lo que permite una experiencia de usuario agradable, intuitiva, simple, rápida y con usabilidad. Están optimizadas al SEO para ser leídas con facilidad por los motores de búsqueda como Google y ayudar al posicionamiento de tu contenido con las palabras clave con las que deseas darte a conocer.
    Al tener una página web de calidad te diferenciarás de la competencia al posicionarte en comparación con los que no tienen presencia digital, además de que atraer mayor tráfico a tu sitio web y permitirte mayor exposición que puede verse traducida en convertir a los visitantes en clientes e incrementar tus ventas.

  27. The UGLIEST slot pays us THE MOST ? (ONLINE 사설토토사이트 )

  28. GTA Online 선파워 바둑이 Heist: Stealing Diamonds $3,619,000 | Silent & Sneaky (Elite & Hard Mode)