I learned it by watching you!

You all remember that anti-drug campaign on TV in the 80′s and 90′s where the dad finds his kid’s stash, asks him where he learned about that stuff, and the kid shouts back “I learned it by watching you!”  The dad goes pale, and calm voiceover guy reminds us that “Parents who use drugs have children who use drugs.”  Good times.

Well, this post isn’t about drugs, but it’s the first thing I thought of when I read Laurie T.’s post over at Rational Moms titled New study suggests girls learn math anxiety from their teachers.

She says, in part:

Young girls [of female teachers with math anxiety] develop math anxiety, then grow up to be elementary education majors, then pass on that same math anxiety to other young girls, who then avoid studying science and engineering. This is a vicious cycle!

They learn it from their teachers just as much as they learn it from their parents.

A solid education is a key to an inquiring, skeptical mind – having half of our young population already behind the 8-ball when it comes to basic math skills should not be acceptable. I encourage you to head over to Rational Moms to read Laurie’s article.

..Rob T.

3 Responses to I learned it by watching you!

  1. Kimberly says:

    I hope what I’m passing on is my love of numbers and science. I love telling kids – watch this it is so cool. We are working of division. I introduced divisibility rules by drawing a place value chart for a 9 digit number.

    ___ ____ ____, ____ _____ ______, ______ ______ ______

    Then I pulled sticks and had the kids pick a place and a digit. After they picked 5 digits. I filled in the last – and told them I would guarantee that that number was divisible by 3. They by the time I got to to the thousands place – they were standing at their desks, figuring out the problem. When I wrote that final 0 – they were cheering.

    Now they are tackling the 2 digit divided by 1 problems with enthusiasm.

  2. Allison says:

    My calculus class in high school (would have been the early 90′s) was taught by a woman in her 50′s. One day, we all came to class, and she announced that we’d be learning about calculus in three dimensional space. She actually said that the girls might have more trouble than the boys with this section, since our spatial skills weren’t as good. Now, personally this gave me additional motivation to excel, but I tend to have very little respect for authority… I can only imagine how this was received by girls who already lacked self-confidence in their math skills. It is a vicious cycle.

    I’ve always been on the fence about “women in science” or “women in math” student and professional groups, (I’m a physicist/neuroscientist). Sometimes I think that the more we set ourselves apart, by forming these groups, the more we encourage stereotypes. There shouldn’t be “women in science” or “men in science”, there should be “people in science”. IMHO.

  3. Merry K says:

    I had an experience in high school that lends some credence to this idea that girls get “taught to fear math”. I had done well in math up until I got to Calculus. I still did ok, but I ended up with low A’s or B’s (at that time in my life, I had not had ANY B’s). My teacher (a female in her 50′s) taught the BOYS and ignored the girls. Seriously, she waved me away from her desk when I had a legitimate question! Luckily, I was a friend of the girl and boy who would become our validictorians, they got me through calc. I watched this teacher intimidate my dear friend into dropping advanced math after Trig. Thankfully, my daughter who is now 12, is a wiz at math, taking after her father. My strengths were Science, English and Social Studies! Even though math comes easily to her, I see her making it into a “drama” sometimes, and I’m beginning to think it’s coming from her female teacher! (she had a melt down last week even though she was showing her work and getting the right answer on her homework, she kept saying “I don’t get it”)

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