An engineering professor at Dartmouth College wants you to stop telling kids you’re bad at math. Excellent suggestion.

Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math? Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading. Our country’s communal math hatred may seem rather innocuous, but a more critical factor is at stake: we are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics and with that are priming our children for mathematical anxiety. As a result, too many of us have lost the ability to

examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution. [my emphasis]

Of course, we don’t really teach math that way, so it’s not at all surprising that most people don’t leave school with that ability. They never learned her process in the first place.

Maybe if we taught math as a tool for problem solving, instead of asking students to memorize a long series of meaningless rules, we would wind up with fewer math phobic adults.

Just a thought.