Ivey Files

February 11, 2016

Math Is a State of Mind

Are you struggling with math? There is hope for you, and "hope" is the key word here. 

I came across a great post on the Education Week blog that summarizes the findings of a recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a big international organization that tracks things like math performance country by country. Some of the findings go against conventional wisdom, which is why I wanted to share.

The really exciting part:

It turns out that your confidence in your math skills correlates with your performance, so yes, your state of mind really does matter. And that also means that self-doubt can in turn hurt your math performance. These findings might tie in nicely with the fascinating work being done on resilience, persistence, and what Stanford's Carol Dweck calls a "growth mindset." 

And for the "Brain Works in Mysterious Ways" files: It also turns out that participating in non-math activities, like the arts, also correlates with better math performance, even when the wealth of the student and of the school are factored out. So don't discount the importance of drama club, art class, or band practice for developing your math talent. 

Some news you might not welcome (sorry!): More math homework does improve your math skills -- up to an hour a night. After an hour, the additional time doesn't yield the same benefits, so you do get a reprieve.

Read the blog post here, and here's the link to the underlying OECD report