Women, Stop Saying You Hate Math

BlogHer Original Post

Every time I see a comment or a post from a woman stating that she can’t do math or hates math I just cringe. This is one cultural meme I would like to see stomped into the pavement. Take a step back and look at what we affirm.

There are generations of people saying “I don’t understand math.” “I hate math.” “Math is hard.” Yet we are the same people that buy cars, homes and financial services. We are also the same people who elect other math illiterates to city, state and federal position to manage government financial affairs.

How are we doing? Perhaps we should think about learning math from another perspective. This is a video by Christine ALSP with her scene stealing feline co-star Buddy talking about her math anxiety and what she is going to do about it.

We do understand math concepts. What we might not have is the math language and literacy skills to express it. Part of the reason for that is we might not have had the kind of instruction that was compatible with our learning style.

Let Me Give You An Example

As an 8-year-old girl, I knew that if I had 25 cents I could purchase an issue of Captain America and The X-Men comic books. I also knew that I would have five cents left over for a Chunky Bar. I would need X amount of soda bottles to obtain said treasures at two-and-a-half cents per bottle.

I guarantee you that I probably failed dozens of tests that contained word problems with a variation of the above example. For me, a portion of my math learning is visual and tactile. Not auditory or repetition (rote) learning.

Want to take a guess as to the primary method used in my education? Yes, auditory and repetition.

I am not suggesting simplifying learning basic arithmetic and math skills. I’m saying you have to put the skill into place before you can build on it. Before you can test a child for competency, shouldn’t you insure that there is cognition?

Boy with Educational Blocks

In order to stop creating the legions of adults who profess math abhorrence, are in debt themselves but want a voice in fixing the budget, we have to come out of denial and deal with the problem.

So is it too late? Is there only one way to learn math and math concepts? Heck no! Not anymore. I'm proposing a reclamation project. Let’s reclaim our rightful access to math skills.

One of the ways to take the stink out of learning a concept is to play a game. Denise at Let’s Play Math has a phenomenal amount of handouts, worksheets and ideas about incorporating math concepts into play and game activities.

Denise has a lot of good idea generators, but what if you are not in front of a computer? If you have an iPhone/iPod Touch you have applications that you can download to develop your math skills.

PopMath from PopSoft is an iPhone/iPod Touch application that blends the joy of popping bubble wrap with brushing up on basic skills. If you go to the Web site, you can sample the application in your browser for free but minus the popping sound.

PalaSoft is a similar application called Math Tables in a flash card format. Your job is to match the question with the answer.
iPhone ApplicationMath Drills Lite would have been great for me. Visually seeing and doing goes a long way with when it comes to math. There is a paid version that has more functionality.

Online Games, Interactive Tutorials and Resources

Ms. Mathematician uses games to build math skills in her classroom. One of the games she likes to use is called Pentago.

Pentago is a board game but there is a free online version that you can check out. The goal is simple: Get five in a row. The challenge is that the board moves each turn.

Another resource, Calculation Nation, has math games that can be played solo or with other people from around the world.

Math Tutorials

There are an abundance of math tutorials on the Internet. These are a few examples, but if one style of instruction doesn’t work for you, try another and another until you find a good match.

Colleen King is a teacher who created her own Math Playground for her students. You can dive into math games, puzzles and the unmentionables –- word problems. There are also screencast tutorials on math topics.

Salman Khan has produced 1,100 math and science videos as of this date. You can go to the Khan Academy Web site or his YouTube channel. Find arithmetic, algebra, pre-calculus, trigonometry and a bunch more stuff.

Brightstorm is a for-profit business with free and paid content. The part of Brightstorm that you might be interested in is Brightstorm Math. The math videos are free to view with registration. The content is aimed at high school level and pre-college math skills.

I hope that you can make use of these resources or at the very least pass them along to others who need the help.

Gena Haskett is a BlogHer CE. Blogs:Out On The Stoop and Create Video Notebook


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