## Don’t Trash-Talk About Math

In Sunday August 12, 2012’s Parade Magazine I found a checklist for parents to help them get ready for the upcoming school year. There was a list of 10 tips to follow. Number 6 was entitled “Don’t Trash-talk about math”.

Psychologists Harold Stevenson and James Stigler found 15 years ago that in countires that produce a lot of math whizzes, parents and teachers believed math ability is like a muscle you strengthen with good instruction and practice. In the USA, where klids don’t do that well, parents think of math ability as a talent, not a skill….Watch what you say about your own math aptitude- it matters.

What do you think? Is math a talent or a skill?

I am a total believer in Carol Dweck\’s work (like here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-secret-to-raising-smart-kids ) that says it\’s all about the \”mindset,\” at least for most of us. There may be outliers on the ends of the continuum (math savants and extreme math related disabilities), but I think in 99% of the cases, it\’s all about the attitudes…

Agreed. It seems to me that most of our adult abilities comes from a \”can-do\” attitude. However, I have two kids with very different math attitudes, which is unfolding into very different math aptitudes. They have mixed-mindsets in out home and extended family- as their father and I don\’t see ourselves as \”math people\” but their grandfather is a math professor who specializes in actuarial science.

So… the question remains. Is it a talent or a skill?

PS. Thanks for the article.

\”Yes,\” is my answer.

🙂 I can always count on you.