I don't know many people who went into elementary education or homeschooling because of their love for math. (I know a few of you are out there. You're weird. Outliers. Accept it with pride.) Teaching math can be challenging, particularly if we have our own math demons lurking in the closet. The following post is designed expressly for those who would like to ruin the mathematicians of the next generation. If that's not you, you can skip it...or read it with the humor intended.
10 Ways to Mess Up a Child's Mathematical Mind:
1. Teach her that there is only one way to solve a problem. Reinforce that by giving her assignments in which she learns a set of predetermined steps to solve a particular type of problem and then practices that sequence over and over and over. And over. Don't ask her if there are other ways to solve problems.
2. Teach him that math is a solitary process. Reinforce it by placing him alone in front of a computer or textbook without talking about a variety of math strategies that might be used to solve similar problems. (See #1!)
3. Teach her that math only exists between the pages of textbooks. Don't point out the math you use as you grocery shop, balance your checkbook, calculate miles/gallon, prepare dinner, or figure how long it is until her bedtime so you can watch Jersey Shore in peace.
4. Teach him to be fearful of math. This is easy. It helps to do #1-3 above. But it also helps to model your own fearful behavior. Say things like, "Math is hard for me." Or "I never liked math." Or "I was born without the math gene." According to Marilyn Burns (Math: Facing An American Phobia), you're in good company with 2/3rds of American adults being math phobic. You're already on the bandwagon. It's a popular place to be. Don't jump ship now!
5. Teach her that math is primarily a world of pencil and paper. Don't ask her to estimate or use mental math.
6. Teach him to avoid visual cues. Forget using manipulatives, sketches, or drawings.
7. Don't read any math-related children's literature. Don't play any math games.
8. Always emphasize the importance of fact memorization. Drill, drill, drill. And if she can't get it, drill some more.
9. Never look at what wrong answers have to teach us. That would just be wrong!
10. Teach her that math is boring. And scary. Reinforce with #1-9 above.
Want to add to my list? Comment with your own ways to mess with children's mathematical minds!