Last month I spent 30 minutes of a 50 minute tutoring session
trying to teach a 12 year old year the common denominator.
Often times, as a tutor, it is hard to teach a young person
what you take for granted for knowing, almost intuitively.
But somewhere in the distant past, someone hung in there
with me, so show me the common denominator.
When I noticed that she just started guessing answers I said,
"I know that you can do this work, you just have to take you
time and follow the rules. Math is a language, and it is linear,
you cannot guess at the correct answer. Learn the steps,
and follow them every time and you will get the correct answer.
I know that you know how to do this."
A week later, I was tutoring another young lady, 12, with a higher
math capacity, but get this, she was still visibly uncomfortable
doing the work.
I mentioned this to another tutor and her response
was, "Yeah, the girls think that math is for boys."
The more I paid attentive the more I noticed, that the girls,
regardless of capacity to do the work, looked really uncomfortable
doing the work.
So I started paying attention to the boys. Some of them, ranging in
ages from 9-12, were better than others, many were on grade level
and many where by behind. But, what stuck out to me was
their tendency and will to sit there through the tedium of doing 12
triple digit multiplication problems, 15 fraction conversation
problems, and 10 long division problems.
Page after tedious page, some grumble, some were right at home.
I realized that doing math problems is a kind of meditation.
When I told Birkhold about the distinction he said that math is
a masculine gender performance and that there have been
oodles of studies on math, girls and gender performance.
He also said that girls being scared of math is part and parcel to
the maintenance of women being oppressed and maintaining
capitalism. I just looked at him like whhhhutuuuuuuuut?
He responded saying that the two engines of capitalism are
entrepreneurship and scientific and techonological advances.
You need math in order to do all of these successfully. So, by
making it the domain of men, we undermine the future
prosperity of girls.
Math and Girls any thoughts?
Teach any young people math lately?
What was the outcome?
What are three material changes that
we can make to change math education for
children in general and girls specifically?