Why is Math So Special?

I’m going to apologize in advance for this unfocused ramble of a post!


During my internship this past fall, I had the opportunity to teach a magnificent class of grade nine students. They were such a great class. Boy, do I miss them. I was lucky enough to get to sub for them a few times a few weeks back. The second time I was back, one student greeted me with a big smile. He said, “Miss T.! Did you read about me in the paper?”

That caught me completely off-guard. I usually opt to not read the paper. I wracked my brain about big headlines that he might be connected to. Little did I know, he was in the paper for his academic improvement due to the iPad project that the school was piloting this winter. This particular student struggled in my class. He seemed to understand concepts, but he wasn’t always a productive worker, nor did he always perform well on tests.

After reading the article, I got a chance to talk to him again. I noted that I was incredibly proud of him for his improvement, and also for helping to pioneer innovative ideas for using his iPad at school. He really was doing some great stuff.

However, this lovely story has one downside that I left unmentioned. In the article, he admits, “We don’t use it in math yet, but I wish we did, because I kinda suck at math.” I used an iPad intermittently during my internship, but what concerns me most is that he isn’t motivated to find a way to use it. The iPad project going on at the school has less to do with teachers using an iPad in class and more to do with students bringing their own iPad, like this student, to school. He uses it as a way to stay engaged. Perhaps he needs some guidance on ways to use it in math.

Since then, I haven’t seen him. I hope I run into him one day soon, because I know that there are so many ways he can engage himself in math over the summer.

Another part of my concern is his public admittance that he “kinda suck[s] at math.” Firstly, he didn’t suck at math. It wasn’t exactly easy, but he by no means “sucked” at it. Why is it okay to be bad at math? How come this is publicly accepted? What would the reaction be if someone stated that “I kinda suck at reading”? I think it would certainly have a different tone.

Needless to say, I’m going to work darn hard next year to make sure my students develop a healthy relationship with math. They don’t have to love it quite like I do, but they do need to coexist harmoniously!

“We don’t use it in math yet, but I wish we did, because I kinda suck at math,” he laughs.


One thought on “Why is Math So Special?

  1. Pingback: Assessment and Eight Math or Reading Classes

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