One of my colleagues in the office the other day coined the term “mathitude” to indicate a positive attitude toward math, whether in children or adults. There was a perfect example of that last week in a first grade class at an EIM member school. The students were playing a game and at one point a girl, with a big smile, said to her partner, “I love math!” and her partner, also smiling, nodded in agreement. Clearly, the teacher in this classroom is doing far more than just instilling math competence in her students; she is also instilling math confidence by making sure her students are engaged in math and enjoying the experience.
Contrast that with this situation. We were having dinner at some friends’ the other night. After dinner, we decided to play Apples to Apples®, a game EIM uses and recommends. I’d played it before and told the others that it uses the same kind of mental skills that math requires: flexible thinking and making connections. At the word “math,” one woman blanched and sputtered, “I hate math! Math scares me!”
We need to ask ourselves: Do we want our children, our students, to grow up with this kind of paralyzing feeling about math? Or do we want to instill in them the “mathitude” shown by the first grade girls above? Another first grade boy who, as I was saying my goodbyes to the class after a fun session last year, hastily scrawled a sign and held it up for me to read: “Math Rocks!” I took a photo of him which you can see below.
Let’s hear it for MATHITUDE!