How to Get Better at Math

Change your attitude!

Great message!

Did you watch the whole thing? Sound like any math teachers you know? Keep trying? Do it again? Did you check your notes? Have you tried to break the bigger problem into smaller problems?

If you regularly answer no to these questions, you may unwittingly be avoiding something called tolerable frustration. Tolerable frustration is a good thing. That’s when authentic learning occurs. When students give up prior to this, no new distinctions are forged in the mind.

With all the new research that supports cognitive neuroplasticity and the brain’s malleability, why are so many off-loading the blame for their shortcomings on other factors? Two words. Cognitive. Dissonance.

When reality comes into conflict with our beliefs, we often can’t reconcile that our beliefs may indeed be wrong. As a result, we change our attitudes in order to feel better about the dissonance. Math is stupid anyway. When will I ever need Algebra? My teacher doesn’t like me. And so on. These often-heard phrases alleviate the conflict between the facts and our beliefs.

Don’t be afraid to exercise your brain. It’s like a muscle. It loves strenuous activity. And if you don’t use it, you lose it. Like our muscles, the brain will atrophy with non-use. So the next time you’re faced with a challenging task, adopt the attitude of: I am learning more. (My muscles are growing.)

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