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Dispelling Myths about Teaching Math

Michael Mitchell

Dispelling Myths about MathRemember struggling through math class? Remember learning fractions? For most people, it was not a happy experience. For new teachers facing a room of young faces, teaching math can be just as intimidating.

The first step is to set aside any emotional reactions based on your personal experiences and approach your adult math experience with a fresh perspective and an open mind.

More than any other subject, math seems to inspire the most myths and misconceptions. Hopefully, this article will dispel these "myths about math."

Myth: Mathematical ability is inherited.
Perhaps, this misconception stems from the false belief that “genius parents produce genius children.” Just like anything else, confidence is a key factor in math success. Most students who apply themselves, are reasonably confident and possess average intelligence do well in math.

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Myth: You don’t need to study for teaching math.
Somehow, math is different? Really! Wouldn’t that be nice? Unfortunately, here in the real world, math is just like any other subject and requires study and practice.

Myth: Boys are better at math than girls.
This is pure gender-based stereotyping that has no factual basis.

Myth: There is only one right way to get the right answer.
Math problems can be solved in a variety of ways. There is no best way.

Myth: Logic is needed for math and intuition is not.
Intuition is one of the most important aspect of problem solving. Everyone has intuition, we just haven’t learned to use or trust it.

Myth: Logic is needed for math and creativity is not.
Understanding math requires imagination, intellect, intuition, and aesthetic to see the “rightness” of things.

Myth: If you don’t know how to solve a problem after you read it, you probably can’t solve it.
Solving math problems is just like solving any type of problem. It is a process where different approaches must be tried and intuition and creativity play a part. When you learn how to swim, you start at the shallow end of the pool.

Myth: Counting on your fingers is bad.
Counting on fingers shows an understanding of arithmetic, rather than memorization.

In today’s technologically advancing world, learning math is more important than ever. Technology requires that we solve more difficult and complex problems all the time. Thinking clearly about math is the first step in teaching children to also think clearly about math.

What myths about math do you dispel in your classroom? Share in the comments section!