I’m not big on sappy sayings or lists. But when I saw a list of “7 Rules of Life” on Facebook, I couldn’t help but see the 7 Rules of Life in Math in it.
1. Make peace.
Did you have a math teacher laugh at you? Write him a letter and tell him he was a meanie.
Did you have a math teacher say you weren’t good at math? Find her number, give her a call and let her know that she was wrong.
Find a way to make peace with that past event.
You’re not bad at math. You never have been. You just had some teachers that made you feel yucky.
2. Ignore others.
Forget about what others think. Your learning in math is your business.
Don’t worry yourself wondering if you’re learning as fast as someone else. If you’re happy with your learning, that’s good enough.
3. Give it time.
Time helps – a lot.
Learning isn’t something you sit and do today and then have in your brain forever. Often we put things in today and they don’t really make sense until 6 months from now.
And practice over time helps it to gel. So be patient.
4. Don’t judge.
Just as your learning is yours, other people’s learning is theirs. If they don’t get it, avoid launching into the damaging “all you have to do is…” routine. Those words say, “Anyone can do this. It’s easy. And if you can’t, well… you’re an idiot.”
Knock it off.
Everyone learns differently – just because you get it quickly, doesn’t mean you get to be pushy about teaching it to others.
5. Embrace ignorance.
It’s okay to not know the answers. Math is about exploring. Discovering.
If you don’t get the answer today, come back later. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
In spite of what all the textbooks and teachers say, math is not linear. If you don’t get something today, keep rolling. It’s okay to skip it.
When you least expect it, you’ll understand that “missing” concept so much better than if you tried for force yourself into it too soon.
6. Take charge.
No one’s in charge of your learning except you. Really.
If you have to play the grades game, fine. But remember to learn along the way.
Don’t jump through hoops for the sake of jumping.
The next time you’re smiling, look around. There was math in what you did that made you happy.
Maybe you saved 75% off a great dress. Or gotten to an event on time. Or had more people show up at your party than you expected.
All of those are math. And you’re smiling about it!
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