The Atlantic

The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math'

Basic ability in the subject isn't the product of good genes, but hard work.
Source: Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

“I’m just not a math person.”

We hear it all the time. And we’ve had enough. Because we believe that the idea of “math people” is the most self-destructive idea in America today. The truth is, you probably are a math person, and by thinking otherwise, you are possibly hamstringing your own career. Worse, you may be helping to perpetuate a pernicious myth that is harming underprivileged children—the myth of inborn genetic math ability.

Is math ability genetic? Sure, to some. Terence Tao, UCLA’s famous virtuoso mathematician, publishes dozens of papers in top journals every year, and is sought out by researchers around the world to help with the hardest parts of their theories. Essentially none of us could ever be as good at math as Terence Tao, no matter how hard we tried or how well we were taught. But here’s the thing: We don’t have to! For math, inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da The Atlantic

The Atlantic7 min lettiPolitics
How Conservatives Turned the ‘Color-Blind Constitution’ Against Racial Progress
Progressives used to argue that the Constitution doesn’t see race. Now conservatives have weaponized that same idea.
The Atlantic6 min lettiPsychology
The Three Personalities of America
A few years ago, Jason Rentfrow, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, dug into a question that has captivated him for decades: Do different places have different personalities? Do people in Los Angeles, for instance, have measurably differe
The Atlantic17 min letti
What It Means to Name a Forgotten Murder Victim
Thirteen years ago, a young woman was found dead in small-town Texas. She was nicknamed “Lavender Doe” for the purple shirt she was wearing. Her real identity would remain a mystery until amateur genealogists took up her case.