It's amazing how many math myths are out there these days. Believing these myths can lead students (not to mention adults) to believe that math is "too hard," "not for them," or just plain unattainable. That's nonsense!
The word “smart” is tricky because it means different things to different people. For example, would you say a baby is “smart”? On the one hand, a baby is helpless and doesn’t know anything. But on the other hand, a baby is exceptionally smart because they are constantly learning new things every day.
This example is meant to demonstrate that “smart” can have two meanings. It can mean “the knowledge that you have,” or it can mean “the capacity to learn from experience.” When someone says they are “not smart,” are they saying they do not have lots of knowledge, or are they saying they lack the capacity to learn? If it’s the first definition, then none of us are smart until we acquire that information. If it’s the second definition, then we know that is completely untrue, because everyone has the capacity to grow as a result of new experiences.
So, if your student doesn’t think that they are smart, encourage them to be patient. They have the capacity to learn new facts and skills. It might not be easy, and it will take some time and effort, but the brain is automatically wired to learn. "Smart" should not refer only to how much knowledge you currently have. #mathmythbusted
Everyone has been there. You have a big test tomorrow, but you’ve been so busy that you haven’t had time to study. So you had to learn it all in one night. You may have gotten a decent grade on the test. However, did you to remember the material a week, month, or year later?
The honest answer is, “probably not.” That’s because long-term memory is designed to retain useful information. How does your brain know if a memory is “useful” or not?
One way is the frequency in which you encounter a piece of information. If you only see something once (like during cramming), then your brain doesn’t deem those memories as important. However, if you sporadically come across the same information over time, then it’s probably important. To optimize retention, encourage your student to periodically study the same information over expanding intervals of time. #mathmythbusted
The next time you hear a Math Myth like this from a student, parent, or even a friend, make sure you bust it!
Dr. Bob joined Carnegie Learning in 2009 as a Cognitive Scientist. He received his PhD in Cognitive Psychology in 2005 from the University of Pittsburgh under the direction of Dr. Michelene T.H. Chi, and he received additional training at the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC) as a postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Kurt VanLehn and Dr. Timothy J. Nokes-Malach. In his spare time, Dr. Bob publishes a blog entitled Dr. Bob's Cog Blog, and is the author of the book Cognitive Science for Educators: Practical suggestions for an evidence-based classroom. The unifying theme that runs throughout all of these activities is a drive toward helping every student become an expert in a domain of her or his choice. When he isn’t thinking about cognitive science, which is rare, Dr. Bob enjoys long-distance running, mountain biking, and traveling with his wife.Explore more related to this author
Amy Jones Lewis brings her classroom expertise and passion for high-quality math instruction together as Carnegie Learning’s Senior Director of Content Design. In this role, she oversees the content development of Carnegie Learning’s instructional resources to meet the needs of students and teachers. Prior to this, she was the math specialist for Intermediate Unit 1, receiving more than $2M in grant funds to provide intensive professional development to K-8 teachers in southwestern PA. As a national consultant, Amy has contributed to projects at WestEd, Discovery Education, and other local organizations. She is the former Director of Educational Services at Carnegie Learning, where she worked with teachers and coaches across the country to successfully implement the Carnegie Learning blended math solutions. She began her career teaching high school mathematics in Malawi, Africa, and Baltimore City, MD, and has a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Johns Hopkins University.Explore more related to this author