Do female teachers pass on their fear of math to young girls?

A story in the AJC on why girls fear math was especially relevant to me as my youngest daughter tested very high in math skills on the COGAT but doesn’t like math and perceives that she’s not good at it. Not surprisingly, it has become her most challenging subject.

A study suggests that female teachers who fear math pass the fear onto girls in their classes.

A study suggests that female teachers who fear math pass the fear onto girls in their classes.

I keep wondering why she struggles and whether somehow we communicated that math is hard. My youngest daughter’s teacher has offered to work with her in the morning before class, and I hope to make that happen as I think that math fluency is critical today.

I am one of those English majors who could not wait to satisfy the math requirements in college and retire my protractor and calculator. Now, I wish I had taken more college-level math, especially statistics.

According to the AP story:

WASHINGTON — Little girls may learn to fear math from the women who are their earliest teachers.

Despite gains in recent years, women still trail men in some areas of math achievement, and the question of why has provoked controversy. Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.

Young students tend to model themselves after adults of the same sex, and having a female teacher who is anxious about math may reinforce the stereotype that boys are better at math than girls, explained Sian L. Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University of Chicago.

Beilock and colleagues studied 52 boys and 65 girls who in classes taught by 17 different teachers. Ninety percent of U.S. elementary school teachers are women, as were all of those in this study.

Student math ability was not related to teacher math anxiety at the start of the school year, the researchers report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

But by the end of the year, the more anxious teachers were about their own math skills, the more likely their female students — but not the boys — were to agree that “boys are good at math and girls are good at reading.”

In addition, the girls who answered that way scored lower on math tests than either the classes’ boys or the girls who had not developed a belief in the stereotype, the researchers found.

“It’s actually surprising in a way, and not. People have had a hunch that teachers could impact the students in this way, but didn’t know how it might do so in gender-specific fashion,” Beilock said in a telephone interview.

Beilock, who studies how anxieties and stress can affect people’s performance, noted that other research has indicated that elementary education majors at the college level have the highest levels of math anxiety of any college major.

“We wanted to see how that impacted their performance,” she said.

After seeing the results, the researchers recommended that the math requirements for obtaining an elementary education teaching degree be rethought.

“If the next generation of teachers — especially elementary school teachers — is going to teach their students effectively, more care needs to be taken to develop both strong math skills and positive math attitudes in these educators,” the researchers wrote.

Janet S. Hyde, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, called the study a “great paper, very clever research.”

“It squares with an impression I’ve had for a long time,” said Hyde, who was not part of the research team.

Hyde was lead author of a 2008 study showing women gaining on men in math skills but still lagging significantly in areas such as physics and engineering.

Girls who grow up believing females lack math skills wind up avoiding harder math classes, Hyde noted.

“It keeps girls and women out of a lot of careers, particularly high-prestige, lucrative careers in science and technology,” she said.

Beilock did note that not all of the girls in classrooms with math-anxious teachers fell prey to the stereotype, but “teachers are one source,” she said.

55 comments Add your comment

DeKalb Conservative

January 26th, 2010
9:40 am

The logic here has merit, however I don’t think it’s the teachers on this one. I think if they peeled back a layer or two in this data they might find these 1st and 2nd graders are in homes where mothers are not comfortable in math.

I suspect this because I find it hard to believe a 1st or 2nd grade teacher, female or male would have anxiety over the core concepts of the math being taught, so much that it rubbed onto female student perceptions.

Bikerchick

January 26th, 2010
10:16 am

It would be interesting to see if there is any correlation between whether or not girls are “anxious” about math and the presence or absence of a father in the home. For that matter, I’d like to see a study that looked at reading and math skills for boys and girls that compares how kids do with a father in the home vs. no father in the home. If female teachers are “anxious” about their math skills, then it stands to reason that moms may transfer anxiety about math to their daughters as well. Perhaps a father or father figure in the home can balance that? It would be interesting to see the statistics on that scenario.

Gwinnett Parent

January 26th, 2010
10:28 am

Perhaps we should quit telling our daughter’s (parents&teachers) that boys are better in Math. In middle school I had a teacher that kept on saying that “boys do better in Math”. She made Math appear like a non-feminine thing. Boys want to appear masculine and girls feminine. The other day I spoke with a mom at my daughter’s piano lesson. She was nervous about having her son in Piano and the fact that he liked it, because it was a “sissy” subject. I didn’t think that Billy Joel or Elvis were sissies. Let’s quit categorizing subjects by gender and just let the children learn. Hire a tutor if necessary.
Instead of paying so much attention to the mis-behaved boys in class,
we could reward our gals with some cool Science experiments or apply Math to real life.

HA

January 26th, 2010
10:29 am

As a teacher and a woman, I find it very offensive to assume that because I have double X chromosomes that I am also afraid of 2nd grade math. I know many female math teachers, from lower elementary to high school levels, and they aren’t anxious about math, instead they are brilliant- they are some of the best teachers that I know. And to study whether or not there is a father in the home and how that influences math anxiety is ludicrous!! Just because you are male, you are born with more math skills than I am? Please. Can we stop reinforcing stereotypes? Maybe that’s the problem!

ugaaccountant

January 26th, 2010
10:31 am

1) Math is harder than other subjects. It actually requires you to think. That’s why fewer people worldwide can do it well and why jobs with math skills pay well. Let’s not kid ourselves on that. Nobody ever promised life was easy and that everyone could succeed at it.

2) Are they seriously implying that 1st and 2nd grade teachers are so incompetent at math that they fear concepts taught that early? They are essentially saying that we employ morons as teachers. A person who can’t read at a 2nd grade level is illiterate and would obviously never be a college graduate. So they are saying that female 1st and 2nd grade teachers are math illiterate. Nice accusation there.

3) I also don’t like the blame the teacher attitude here. Instead of blaming the teacher, blame the curriculum which is forced down their throats. The methods have been pretty standard across the country for awhile now with no proven improvement. In fact things appear subjectively to be far worse. Perhaps it’s time for teachers to go back to teaching content instead of teaching test prep.

ugh

January 26th, 2010
10:36 am

This isn’t even a causational study. How can the results of a study with barely 100 participants even be representative of all students? Maybe the author has anxiety regarding educational research and statistical analysis?

School Girl

January 26th, 2010
10:39 am

25 years ago I was told that it was ok that I wasn’t good at math. That girls don’t have to be good at math. Now, 25 years later, I am a college freshman and am struggling with MATH 0097. You are what you’re told.

DeKalb Conservative

January 26th, 2010
10:43 am

It is a slippery slope with this one. You don’t want to inject sexism into this, else you’ll be stuck in a parody situation like SNL’s Chess for Girls, which basically makes fun of how to market the game of Chess to girls.

Daydreamer

January 26th, 2010
10:49 am

Hey now, let’s not be too critical of female teachers. I happen to be a middle aged man who is still in love with my fourth grade teacher.

Rakesh Raina

January 26th, 2010
10:59 am

This articles should be taken something as generic and not specific to each school girl or female teacher.
There may be slight bent in male and female brains about mathematical and non-mathematical skills. In general, girls are good at cramming and boys know it and boys don’t moan about it. Similarly, in general, boys do good in maths than girls.
Evolution, evolution, evolution …
Since ages, males have been imparted more of maths knowledge and females have been imparted more language skills because females are more vocal etc.
This should not offend anybody. The statistics show that males dominate in engineering jobs.
Solution: No maths fear to girls. Work extra hard on your girl child’s maths.
Thanks

Bikerchick

January 26th, 2010
11:00 am

To HA: Studies have already proven that children who grow up without a father in the home have statistically higher chances of dropping out of school, teenage pregnancy, drug use, involvement in criminal activity, behavioral and emotional problems than children who do have a father in the home. That’s not conjecture, it’s a proven fact. Many single moms do a great job of raising their kids. I’m not dissing single moms. I’m just stating facts. No father in the home equals a higher probability that children, boys in particular, will not do well in school and will not complete high school. Having a father in the home raises the possibility that they will complete high school. Stands to reason that reading and math grades may follow that pattern as well.

Fire Marshal

January 26th, 2010
11:09 am

I had to take statistics to earn a degree in political science. Squeaked by with a low C. I have English major tendencies.

Michael the slow reader

January 26th, 2010
11:09 am

By that reasoning then boys would influenced that they were not as good as girls in reading. Girls are not the ones getting short changed in school, boys are. They are being taught by mostly women teachers , who teach in a style that is more suited to girls and who don’t understand boys.
Most kids put on drugs for ADHD are boys. Most dropouts are boys. There are 3 girls in college for every 2 boys.Most (90%) of kids suspended from school are boys.
Could it be that the boys are being negatively influenced by the female teacher and are being sterotyped as problems because they don’t act as girls?

lovelyliz

January 26th, 2010
11:10 am

I was so impressed by my trig teacher in high school; the only female math teacher I had, that I chose to major in math. The logic just appeals to my nature even 20 years after I graduated from college.

On the other hand, my niece attends a private Christian school. On parent/teacher night, the math/Bible/homeroom teacher, told an entire classroom full of parents that she didn’t like math. My jaw dropped. How can you have someone with a hatred of anything more than basic math, teaching algebraic concepts to 7th grade students?

Female teacher passing on their fear of math might have more to do with the fact that up until high school, there are more female than male teachers. I suspect that if you were to do a scientific study of girls and how they learn to fear math, you would find enough male teacher who buy into stereotypes such as girls aren’t good at math.

Check out Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar

Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss by Danica McKellar

former engineer

January 26th, 2010
11:12 am

No, the study isn’t saying that incompetent teachers are being hired to teach early elementary grades. But let’s face facts here. The math requirements for elementary ed. majors are far more lenient than the requirements for a secondary math major, or an engineer, or accountant, or statistician… if you are confident in your math abilities and enjoy math, you are going to gravitate towards those majors which utilize that particular skill set. I wasn’t an English major in undergraduate or graduate school, because I didn’t enjoy analyzing poetry or literature, and I despised writing. If I were to be teaching English rather than trigonometry now, I would hate my life.

Sexism in the classroom is well documented. Until we ramp up the prerequisites for math and science in ALL levels of the teaching curriculum, that sexism is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as well as a self-perpetuating cycle.

lovelyliz

January 26th, 2010
11:14 am

I was so impressed by my trig teacher in high school; the only female math teacher is had, that I chose to major in math. The logic just appeals to my nature even 20 years after I graduated from college.

On the other hand, my niece attends a private Christian school. On parent/teacher night, the math/Bible/homeroom teacher, told an entire classroom full of parents that she didn’t like math. My jaw dropped. How can you have someone with a hatred of anything more than basic math, teaching algebraic concepts to 7th grade students?

Female teacher passing on their fear of math might have more to do with the fact that up until high school, there are more female than male teachers. I suspect that if you were to do a scientific study of girls and how they learn to fear math, you would find enough male teacher who buy into stereotypes such as girls aren’t good at math.

Check out Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail by Danica McKellar

Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss by Danica McKellar

lovelyliz

January 26th, 2010
11:16 am

Or Michael the slow reader could it be thatboys/men do better than women even when the women “outrank” them in education?

Brian in Athens

January 26th, 2010
11:26 am

My son won a county-wide elementary school reader of the year award last year, based on the quality and quantity of his reading. This year he reads even more at home, but is not even in the running. Why? Not because of teachers, but peer pressure. I found out just last night that he hasn’t turned in the form with the number of books and minutes he spends reading each night that my wife or I have to sign off on. He had it in his folder but intentionally left it out several times in a row so that the boys won’t make fun of him. He now believes reading is for girls and while he enjoys it he won’t admit to it. This is a parenting issue and we will deal with it, but the premise is there on both sides of this issue.

Bikerchick

January 26th, 2010
11:33 am

I agree that it’s less of a “teacher problem” than it is a “parent problem”. Here are just some of the statistics:

“Children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes. Source: “One-Parent Families and Their Children;” Charles F. Kettering Foundation (1990).

Children in single-parent families tend to score lower on standardized tests and to receive lower grades in school. Children in single-parent families are nearly twice as likely to drop out of school as children from two-parent families. Source: J.B. Stedman (et al.), “Dropping Out,” Congressional Research Service Report No 88-417. 1988.

In studies involving over 25,000 children using nationally representative data sets, children who lived with only one parent had lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations, poor attendance records, and higher drop out rates than students who lived with both parents. Source: McLanahan, Sara and Gary Sandefur. Growing up with a Single Parent: What Hurts, What Helps. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994.

Kids who live with both biological parents at age 14 are significantly more likely to graduate from high school than those kids who live with a single parent, a parent and step-parent, or neither parent. Source: G.D. Sandefur (et al.), “The Effects of Parental Marital Status…”, Social Forces, September 1992.”

Once Again

January 26th, 2010
11:54 am

Once again Maureen has taken a B.S. study with less then 100 people and tries to, slickly, pass it off as legitimate. Her biases against teachers is ONCE AGAIN showing. Can AJC please hire some competent journalists instead of using third-rate hacks?

Maureen Downey

January 26th, 2010
12:19 pm

Once Again, Don’t mind the personal aspersions, but I would suggest that you look at the criteria to have a study published in the National Academy of Sciences.
http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/iforc.shtml#policies
Maureen

HA

January 26th, 2010
12:23 pm

Hey, Bikerchick. Any remark that starts with “Studies have already proven…” is already BS. Studies don’t “PROVE” anything. Especially something like this report which is based on such a small pool of subjects. Simply having a father in the home is NOT a cure-all for all of society’s woes. I was raised by a single mother (as was our president) and I have not encountered any of the issues that you claim are “proven fact” that I might deal with. Your statements AND the claims of this study are most definitely conjecture…

Tony

January 26th, 2010
12:35 pm

The study presented has a good overall design but there are two major flaws that seriously affect its validity regarding the claims made by the authors. First, the sample size is quite small. While this small size (17 teachers) could be used as the basis for piloting a larger study, it is not sufficient in size to support the strong causal claims made regarding a connection between teacher anxiety and student achievement. Second, the analysis of a study of this nature must be conducted in a hierarchical manner such that extraneous variables can be eliminated. In this case, there are so many factors affecting student achievement it is not funny. Both large samples and hierarchical analysis help to reduce the extraneous variables and strengthen the conclusions. I think the findings of this study certainly warrant further attention – perhaps a study using a much larger scope.

Elizabeth

January 26th, 2010
12:54 pm

Between this blog topic and the one about excusing the misbehavior of boys, I believe that females, once again , are being slowly pushed into the background. No one seems concerned that females still earn less than males in this country. Furthermore, I submit that, if teaching were not primarily a female ocuupation, salary and working conditions would be better. It seems to be okay for women to be less valued monetarily in the workplace and to endure poor working conditions.

I speak as the mother of a daughter who has always had to take a back seat in the clasroom to boys who got most of the attention. Yet, as a child, my daughter was as hyperactive, wiggly, and under-develeped mentally as any of the boys . My daughte knew what was wa expected of her behaviorally and academically. She struggles with some of it, yet she behaved and performed. If she had been a boy, our expectations would have been the same. This is just another way to excuse bad behavior.

Read the book “Finding Ophelia” sometime. It clearly speaks to the ways in which our daughters are at risk, and it is much scarier than anything I have read about boys at risk.

As for math… all my high school math teachers were women who loved to teach math. The fact taht zi hated it was not caused by any female’s opnion but by my own interests and talents. This seems just another way to denigrate women.

DeKalb Conservative

January 26th, 2010
1:04 pm

On this thread and the previous one about boys Bikerchick is trying push the issue of daddy problems and the absence of fathers. While these are important sociological points, they are also too often seen as excuses for results.

Having a father present for the most part is fixed and not variable. A child cannot control this. Regardless of having a father present the study, though not statistically significant is tugging at the thoughts of many people to the point that though statistically insignificant the results of this study can be characterized as “common sense” for many.

The end result, regardless of all other sociological factors is that U.S. kids today and for a long time have been behind in math. This isn’t a girl thing, boys aren’t exactly worthy of praise of their math skills when compared to their counterparts in the civilized and at times, the emerging world.

lovelyliz

January 26th, 2010
1:08 pm

The question should also be asked: DO MALE TEACHERS FAVOR BOYS WHEN IT COMES TO MATH?

Reality 2

January 26th, 2010
1:38 pm

Studies have shown that teachers do treat boys and girls differently. Back in the 80’s and 90’s researchers who were looking into the gender differences in mathematics achievements observed a number of classrooms, telling teachers that they were looking whether or not boys and girls were treated differently. Even though they made what they were looking for explicit, they still found differential treatment of boys and girls – both by male and female teachers. The difference may be simply telling boys to “try harder” when they make mistakes but “it’s okay” when girls make mistakes.

We also know the teachers’ beliefs influence their teaching and what students learn. So, the findings of the study isn’t too surprising. However, we need to remember that it is “anxiety” we are looking at, not necessarily mathematical competence. Simply requiring more math courses wouldn’t solve anything – more of the same might simply increases anxiety further. They need different mathematical experiences.

Bikerchick

January 26th, 2010
1:58 pm

HA: I was also raised by a single mother and I DID experience all of the issues raised in my post. You can talk to any police officer who will be more than happy to relate to you the effects of not having a father in the home upon young men. Also affecting young men these days is the opinion of women such as yourself that the presence of absence of a man in the home has no bearing on whether a child does well in life, in other words, men don’t count, men are not important and their presence or absence in the life of a child is irrelevant. Imagine being a male child in a society of female teachers, female single-parents, etc. who feel this way about men and fathers. Imagine how a boy’s self esteem and self worth are affected by those attitudes?

Haywood Jablome

January 26th, 2010
2:22 pm

I am stupefied by the notion that a teacher could have anxiety about 1st and 2nd grade math.

Maybe it’s just subtraction. You knowing that subtraction is “addition’s tricky friend” can be quite frightening.

Read it more carefully

January 26th, 2010
3:16 pm

Does the article say that teachers have anxiety about 1st and 2nd grade math? When teachers are anxious about mathematics in general, then the way they treat the subject matter gets influenced, no matter what level mathematics you are teaching.

ugaaccountant

January 26th, 2010
3:20 pm

Teachers with anxiety about a subject should be unemployed teachers, period. A college degree is not a right. If you aren’t comfortable enough with a subject to teach subtraction you shouldn’t have even come close to getting your own degree.

MARTHA ERICKSON

January 26th, 2010
4:00 pm

As an elementary trained teacher (K-6) and now a full time teacher of math-science-reading-community-research I look to training at the university level to encourage those el ed teachers to have conceptual understanding of mathematics as required of secondary ed candidates. It is unbelievable that with the research out there pointing to strong conceptual understanding of numbers, patterns, algebra in younger years that this is not the case. Returning for a masters should not be where our teachers are learning about math. We are hard working, professionals who need foundational mathematics courses then higher-level connections in order to pave the way for our girls…that and no women in their lives (this included moms) who shy from solving a good-old unbalanced equation problem.

Once Again

January 26th, 2010
4:43 pm

Once again Maureen is avoiding the question. No one is arguing about the “criteria” for submitting an article or study. I (and it looks like others) have rightly called B.S. about you using this study on your biased blog. Do you understand?

hoodtechie

January 26th, 2010
4:51 pm

the problem is and this has been documented women don’t have the logical thought process to excell in math.their reasoning skills lack due to level of testorone being to low.it is not their fault they just can’t process to much information.hey it is what it is

ronda

January 26th, 2010
5:24 pm

I am an elementary school teacher. I don’t like Math either. That’s because I love Reading and Language Arts. I would never tell me students I don’t like it. I think the problem is that some teachers are better at teaching some subjects than others – but in 1st and 2nd grade they don’t departmentalize so teachers have to instruct on all subjects. If they let teachers teach their strengths then this probably wouldn’t be an issue.

Denise

January 26th, 2010
5:31 pm

As a math/science/engineering nerd, I cannot sympathize with little girls in this situation. I did not have the experience where someone else’s bias was projected on me to the point where I feared any academic subject. (Now, my fear of rollercoasters is probably a “gift” from my mother!) I am not sure the issue should be the anxiety over math as much as the “do you dang homework and do it well”. If parents required that their daughters do well in math AND helped them learn it if needed, then we’d see more successful girls in math. Some, once they know they CAN excel in it, may decide it’s their new favorite subject. Folks need to stop giving the “girls don’t like math” and “girls can’t do math” excuses when the young girls don’t do well. HELP THEM DO WELL!!! The excuses lead to laziness, in my opinion. Case in point, I hated, hated, hated all history. Hated it with the heat of a thousands suns! But guess what? Nobody cared and I had to do my work well or get bad grades. There was no “well you don’t like history so it’s okay”.

The Carnivore

January 26th, 2010
5:54 pm

It’s OK to say that boys do have more natural ability in math than girls. We don’t need to talk about “closing achievement gaps” or any other nonsense. I was the math king and I was always focused on beating the Asians, I never even thought about the girls in math. The Asians thought they were top dog until they met me. Come to think of it, maybe some of it is attitude.

Read this more carefully, tard

January 26th, 2010
6:31 pm

Now, a study of first- and second-graders suggests what may be part of the answer: Female elementary school teachers who are concerned about their own math skills could be passing that along to the little girls they teach.

So what are these 1st and 2nd grade teachers teaching – grad school level differential calculus?

SGaDawgette

January 26th, 2010
6:42 pm

For goodness sake! Is there ANYTHING teachers aren’t held responsible for on this blog? Is there ANYTHING that teachers do correctly? Is there ANY service they render to society other than stand as the perpetual whipping boy? I don’t know what’s worse: the topics chosen for discussion or the ridiculous comments that get posted. Thank you all for doing me the favor of convincing me I need never again waste precious time on this drivel.

ScienceTeacher671

January 26th, 2010
6:57 pm

I think the fear comes from the “earliest teachers” – Moms. I can’t tell you how many parent conferences I’ve had where the parent said, “S/he gets it honestly. I was never any good in math/science either!”

Ruth

January 26th, 2010
7:17 pm

My father was an engineer. I have a degree in Mathematics. My 3 daughters are currently in college studying engineering, physics and biology. I think expectations and attitudes are what it’s all about. I have been appalled at the number of Mothers I’ve heard talking about how they could not help their 4th graders in math. People, we use 4th grade math all the time. And without a doubt, a teacher’s attitude about a subject colors the student’s attitude. Doesn’t have to be math.

Fred

January 26th, 2010
7:20 pm

Could the answer possibly be that women really AREN’T (as a whole) as good in math as men? The female body is different than a mans (thank God lol) so could her brain be wired a bit different as well? I dunno. Maybe when all the externals are studied we may find that is the case. Maybe not. I doubt we will ever know because when political correctness gets in the way of scientific research the deck is stacked to start with. Even if that IS the case, it will never be studied lest rabid feminists like HA have a cow.

Either way, my 7 year old daughter loves math and seems to do well in it. I need only worry about her, not the rest of the water-headed children in the world. Hard to believe that her class is working on multiplication in the 2nd grade. Thank GOD for private school……………….

multiplication IS in 2nd grade

January 26th, 2010
7:36 pm

Fred,

Doing multiplication in 2nd grade is nothing special – that’s what all GA public schools are doing. If you think elementary teachers at private schools are any better in math, then you may be sadly mistaken.

Fred

January 26th, 2010
8:08 pm

No they aren’t, yes they are and no I’m not. Don’t be bitter. You must be a government indoctrination center employee.

Gwinnett Parent

January 26th, 2010
8:09 pm

Some of these comments remind me of the old studies that said minorities were not as smart, because their brains are smaller(lol). On a serious note, it is amazing to see the large percentage of female Business majors in college. They sometimes comprise over half of the students majoring in Finance and Accounting. This alone proves that women can handle Math. I majored in Business and had to take several Math intense courses. Try taking International Finance or an advanced Econ class without Math skills. Women have to get over the trauma of people telling them for the first 18 years of their lives that they can’t. I still remember the parents growing up that would not let their daughters play with Legos and the Barbie that would say “I hate Math”.

Nicole

January 26th, 2010
9:10 pm

While most are finding this hard to believe, I have first hand experience that yes, this is true! My daughter since preschool has always mastered in math. Actually, she has mastered in many subjects of her age range. In first grade she was placed in the gifted clusters at her school, as well as AIM. Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, she never recieved less than an O in math. We recieved a letter from the school board about her grades and scores on the CRCTs. This year, in 3rd grade, she messed up on one paper, and got a C. The teacher made a passing comment that if she continued in that fashion, she would surely not make it through the math on the CRCTs. They were working on division, and for some reason the concept escaped her. However, her teacher seeing her previous grades, automatically “assumed” that division should be an easy concept for her, and would make comments if she had problems or asked for help. It took her longer than the other students to complete a division problem, and the teacher’s constant remarks were “she is in the higher levels, this should be no problem for her. ” Not realizing that while she may have been gifted at adding and subtracting, geometry, and decimals, didn’t mean that she would easily understand division, and therefore was making her extremely apprehensive about it. Once the teacher understood the problem actually lied with her, and cut it out, my daughter’s grades returned to normal. She did need extra help on the long division, but continues to excel at other areas in math. I don’t know why she has trouble in this one area, the teacher doesn’t know why, she herself doesn’t know why. What we do know is that by making passing comments at her for her “perceived” shortcoming did have a huge effect on her ablitiy to figure it out. She constantly thought her answer would be wrong, no matter what and developed a habit of checking it over and over again, causing her to not finish her work on time because she feared getting just one answer wrong, due to what the teacher would say. As I stated, once the teacher calmed down, my daughter got on track. What most fail to realize is these teachers are with our children at times more than the parents are due to work schedules, and at times, they have a greater influence on how our children feel and think. If the teacher is sending the message “you can’t do it” the child will be influenced by that.

College Grad

January 27th, 2010
2:11 am

I loved Math in college I took Differential Equations for FUN. But it wasn’t always that way I HATED the hifger math I took in middle school but i did well, I just didn’t like it.
I’m a Girl, and more than a little geeky.

When I was litle my parents both helped me with my home work. I was frustrated by math then because i was accelerated and didn’t know it.

My father is an engineer, a bonefide rocket scientist. His minor in college was mathmatics. he taught me concepts and ideas about math that I used in higher math classes, things that I still use today.

I work in IT, I love my job and i love Math (so did my mom and most of my math teachers)

Michael the slow reader

January 27th, 2010
10:49 am

It is hard for me to believe that Female Teachers feel anxious enough about teaching first and second grade math to the point where it could possibly put any fear of math into the minds of the Girls. We are talking about simple adding, subtracting, division and multiplication here ,not Trig or Calculus. I doubt there are many teachers, male or female, that think they are not competent in this basic math.
As far as teaching being underpaid, I do not think the facts support that, I believe it pays at a level above average salary, and there are many associated higher paying positions in administration and
counseling to be had and the benefits are not bad either.

Michael the slow reader

January 27th, 2010
11:09 am

” Boys get all the attention in the classroom.” Where did you go to school? If you are talking about being reprimanded, told to shut-up or sent to the principals office as attention , you are correct, boys get about 90% of that attention.

Michael the slow reader

January 27th, 2010
11:15 am

Interesting reading , but individual anecdotal information about girls who love math doesn’t change the overall picture. I have a sister-in law who teaches and loves math ; so what? We are talking about the whole, not the exception.