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“Math Not for Everyone” Belief Discourages Kids From Becoming Scientists

“Math Not for Everyone” Belief Discourages Kids From Becoming Scientists

If your kid is not very good at math or other exact sciences, do not try to console him or her saying that this difficult subject is not for everyone. According to a recent study, published in Frontiers in Psychology, saying things like that can completely dissuade your child from even trying to major in one of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education grants. Instead, teachers and parents should explain, that meeting difficulties is an essential part of a learning process.

The longtime study collected data from 4,500 adolescents to understand why they decided to shun fields with intense math studies. According to Lara Perez-Felkner, co-author of the research, the reason lies in the belief that you need some innate ability to do tough mathematical tasks. If you say to someone you are not very good at Japanese, you will usually receive an encouragement and advice to try harder, but if you say you are not good at math, people will give you pitying glances like this is a medical diagnoses.

Psychologists proved that a right mindset means a lot in child’s ability to master sciences. This belief, also called “growth mindset”, gives students the confidence to take the toughest tasks that actually have no correct answers and propose their own unique solutions. Also the study has shown that boys are likely to be more encouraged to do math than girls, but the gender gap has been shrinking lately. According to the findings, an environment that cherishes talents and geniuses is more likely to discourage women from studying science than men.

Across more than 30 academic fields, included into the research, professors and teachers tended to believe and say that success in their fields depends on talent, not hard work. It is important to change such bias and create a “growth mindset” that will allow everyone at least try their hand at math and science. So, next time your child says he or she just is not a math person, explain them that no one, even Pythagoras, can solve any math problem from the first try.

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