Do Parents See the Math Monster? Or Just Think It's There?

There were several thoughtful and intense comments to the Sylvan commercial. As promised, here is a follow-up article based on the comments. A special thanks to those commenting on the video, as this is what keeps the math-revolution conversation going!

by chored | | CC BY-SA

There is definitely a disconnect from a service or product and those advertising or making the sales. I’m sure a lot of tutors/teachers at Sylvan wouldn’t endorse the commercial or would go about it a different way.

Our intent wasn’t to beat up on Sylvan for trying to make a buck. We wanted to bring the commercial’s message to the attention of readers more as a way of asking:

What does it say that a (probably) well paid ad dept. thinks that this would be effective (which it is)? And what does that say about us as a society (‘math stinks, it’s something to fear, I don’t even want to try’)?

How about the fear?

What you don’t know or understand is often scary.

You may have memorized some math at some point, then brain dumped it on some test. If so, do you really understand this math you “learned”?

If not, the idea of helping your children with math, without the guidance of someone telling you how, is frightening.

What’s more frightening: wondering what the monster looks like, or seeing him?

If you send propecia online pharmacy your children to a tutoring center like Sylvan, you only need to know that there is a math monster. If you attempt to tackle the math monster – and help your kids – you have to actually see him.

Tutoring places don’t focus on helping parents understand math. It’s just not what they do. They help the student.

So they will never show you what your “math monster” looks like.

But what if they did? Is the math monster that bad?

What would it look like to help make math less scary for parents? Could parents model this “okay-ness” to their kids? Or better yet, would they have the confidence to help little Billy with homework?

by jez.atkinson | | CC BY

It’s not going to happen if parents really believe they are helpless and shouldn’t even try. The kids see this and do the same thing 25 years later to their kids. (Perpetual pattern?)

It’s ok, maybe even cool to say “I’m bad at math”.

This makes the commercial palatable, or even comical, to some who may relate.

But if this commercial featured a mom running away from little Billy when he asked, “Mom, can you help me with my reading?” folks would be offended!

Let’s make math okay for parents too.

I’m not saying places like Sylvan shouldn’t exist. To the contrary, actually. They provide a wonderful service.

But if parents are running – and encouraged to run – from helping their kids, they are sending a message. Kids see this and learn, “Mom doesn’t do or like math, so it’s really not that important.”

Little Billy might end up passing, even making an A, but he’ll continue the pattern with his kids.

So now’s the time to interrupt the pattern. If you’re a parent, find ways to see and say math around you. If you run from math, pretend you don’t.

What do you think? Keep the conversation going in the comments! And share this article on twitter.

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