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Published at Friday, 10 May 2019. **math worksheet**. By Yolanda Guerin.

here are a number of reasons why math might feel intimidating for students. There’s the idea already mentioned that math is for geniuses. Benjamin Braun, a math professor and blog editor for the American Mathematical Society, reports that when he polled the students in one of his upper-level math courses, over half admitted to fearing that they weren’t actually any good at math. This despite the fact that they were almost all math majors or minors who had already taken two semesters of calculus as a prerequisite for his class. He said this experience repeats itself every year.

Dr. Dweck has found that people who have what she calls a “fixed mindset” think that success is based on an innate ability, while people with a “growth mindset” think that success is based on hard work, which means that your abilities are malleable and can always be improved. People with a fixed mindset perceive failure as proof of their limits — obviously they can’t succeed at this. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that their abilities can improve with hard work, and may interpret a failure as a sign that they should try harder next time. In 2007 a group of researchers including Dr. Dweck studied the math achievement of students with both fixed and growth mindsets at the start of junior high. They found that the students’ scores were comparable at the beginning of the study, but as their coursework became more difficult, the students with a growth mindset showed more persistence and got better grades.

“I think we have to teach kids from a very young age that it’s okay to make mistakes,” says Dr. Pagirsky. “It’s okay to be open to the experience of not knowing, it’s okay to not always have the answer. The best thing parents and educators can do is be there for those times when kids do struggle and reinforce that, hey, you’re working hard, you’re trying to do well, and I’m going to provide some help.”

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