Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,


I have this belief that people tend to live up OR down to expectations. You tell a guy he's stupid, he's going to think school and education are out of reach and he's going to quit trying, and eventually he will be stupid. am I right?

The problem is, I think our whole nation is doing that to ourselves when it comes to math. It's so normal and socially acceptable to announce that you suck at math, that if you try to say anything else there's this uncomfortable silence in the room and people back away. Frequently I tell people I'm an engineer and instead of them saying, "That sounds like an interesting job, what do you enjoy about it?" they just say "Wow you're smart" (not in a complimentary way, in a "Wow you're a freak" way) and the discourse ends.

So we tell ourselves we're supposed to be bad at math, and we get bad at math, and then we get worse, and it's this big viscous cycle. Personally I don't even understand how you can hate ALL math, that's like hating all bread. There are so many different kinds it's really unfair to make up your mind in the third grade when you fail a multiplication test that you hate math. I wasn't great at arithmetic, m'kay, but geometry was a whole new world. it clicked. calculus was an even better one. and my relative slowness at doing multiplication in my head didn't make a bit of difference in calculus. It was about keeping an open mind and realizing that somewhere in this very diverse field there was a nitch for me.

I wonder what it's like in India, where they're cranking out engineers like it's nobody's business? I get the feeling that if you stood in a group there and said, "I hate math!" they'd all just shrug and say "Sucks to be you."
Tags: math
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