Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Math Myths to Muddle the Mind

I'm currently reading Stephen Wilbers book, Keys to Great Writing. In it, he talks about 4 myths that limit a person's writing potential. As I read them, I thought about--what else?--MATH. Here are his myths with a little mathematical editing...

Four Myths that Limit Your Potential (or your student's) as a Writer Mathematician:

1. Myth #1:  Only people with natural ability can learn to write do math well.

Reflection: I spent most of my life believing this. Without question, some people have mathematical gifts, just as others are skilled in athletics or the arts. But given the right environment, the rest of us can prosper mathematically. We would never tell someone that only people with natural ability can learn to read or walk or drive a car well. 

2. Myth #2: People who are good in math and science reading and writing are inherently incapable of using language doing math effectively.

Reflection: English major here. Long-time lover of children's literature. Now hugely benefitting from visual math models that I never learned as a child. Give me a good piece of math-related children's literature and scary math topics will turn on a dime.

3. Myth #3: Achieving writing mathematical competence is a matter of learning to avoid errors.

Reflection: Errors are often our best teachers. Ask Edison.

4. Myth #4: Learning to write do math well is easy if you just learn the right tricks.

Reflection: This myth causes havoc, leading us to believe, among other things, that

When I watch finger multiplication, for instance, I'm impressed from a "boy, do you ever have a great party trick!" viewpoint. I am NOT impressed mathematically. But if I ask you what 6 x 7 is...and you explain several ways to calculate the THAT is impressive!

Question to Ponder: Which math myths most limit your potential?


  1. Great list! The one myth I'd like to add is "You have to be good with numbers to understand and enjoy math".


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