I was sitting at a school board meeting the other night when the Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services said something I found a little profound.
Math is not something a student either good at or not. We don't tell our children, "Sorry, but you aren't a reader and never will be." or "You're a fantastic reader! Here, read all of Shakespeare in two months." Yet, when it comes to math, we do.
I sat there, a math hater from way back, and realized how often in my life as a student, that was exactly what I was told. From "girls just aren't as good at math" to "you're more language skilled which means math will be difficult". One of my sisters was told by a teacher to not worry about how a math problem was solved because, "You won't be able to understand it anyway. You're not math minded."
It's no wonder I hate math and my head gets achy and my temper short while I do my taxes. It's no wonder that the idea of my children needing help with their math homework in high school makes me lightheaded and reaching for a paper bag.
I'm learning, though. I'm learning the importance of math. I'm learning to make sure my message to my kids is that math is just as wonderful and exciting as reading, even if I feel like I'm lying through my teeth. I'm doing it because I don't ever want them to learn the same lesson I learned:
Math is hard.
I want them, instead, to learn that they need to help grow their math brain. I want them to learn to see the level numbers, find comfort in their stability, and appreciation in the beauty of the universal language.
Maybe, just maybe, I'll learn the same.