Myth #1: "That way is the best way of doing math"
A math problem may be solved by a variety of methods which express individuality and originality - but there is no best way. New and interesting techniques for doing all levels of mathematics, from arithmetic to calculus, have been discovered by students. The way math is done is very personal and the best method is the one with which you feel most comfortable.
Consequences: We all have our own way of solving a problem and further simplifying them. Due to lack of confidence, however, we end up adopting techniques from someone else which adversely affects the understanding of that particular problem.
Solution: Try solving exercises on your own. You may no find a solution in the first approach or attempt, nevertheless, try again!
Myth #2: "He is the better than anyone else in math"
Research has never shown any difference between men and women in terms of mathematical ability. Men are reluctant to admit they have problems so they express difficulty with math by saying, "I could do it if I tried." Women are often too ready to admit inadequacy and say, "I just can't do math." (in general, all of us experience impostor syndrome).
Consequences: Girls are more likely to say “I just can’t do math” or “I don’t like math” and give up. This prematurely shuts girls out of science and engineering fields where understanding math is essential.
Solution: Try to always project a positive attitude about mathematics (fake it until you make it) and eventually you will be there!
Myth #3: Math requires continuous intense study for hours.
Solving problems requires both resting and working intensely. Going away from a problem and returning to it allows your mind time to assimilate ideas and develop new ones. You may just find a new solution on returning to the problem!
Consequences: This type of mindset becomes the biggest hurdle in solving exercises independently leading to lack of practice. This ultimately results in extra efforts during exams which otherwise would have gone practicing!
Solution: However hard it may sound, make some spare time to solve random problems in math.
Myth #4: "Of course they're good, they have a math mind".
Belief in myths about how math is done leads to a complete lack of self-confidence. But it is self-confidence that is one of the most important determining factors in mathematical performance. We have yet to encounter anyone who could not attain his/her goals once the mental blocks were removed.
Consequences: Students who begin to struggle with math will use this myth to convince themselves that they just don’t have the “math gene” and then give up. A few may become convinced that they have the “math gene”. Ironically, this is bad too because it leads to a fixed mindset that causes students to quit as soon as they start to struggle with new concepts.
Solution: Constantly remind yourself that no one excels without effort and that struggle is a required part of learning. You wouldn’t expect a person to play Beethoven’s 5th Symphony without ever taking a piano lesson and you shouldn’t expect math to be learned without some struggle. Focus your praise on specific positive actions and encourage a growth mindset.
Myth #5: The magic key to doing math is great memory.
There is no formula, rule, or general guideline which will suddenly unlock the mysteries of math. If there is a key to doing math, it is in overcoming anxiety about the subject and in using the same skills you use to do everything else.
Consequence: Students try to memorize rather than attempting to understand what they are doing, resulting in limited ability to think and solve problems. This is also one of the many reasons students struggle with word problems.
Solution: Students should be encouraged to develop a deeper understanding of what they are doing in mathematics and why.
For more of such myths, go here or here.
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