Saturday, October 06, 2012

Student Conversation

I was helping a calculus student with her test corrections, and we were chatting while she was writing things up. She said 2 interesting things. The first was:

Don't take this the wrong way ..... (that never ends well, does it?) .... but you make me feel stupid and smart at the same time.

She explained that when I look at some work she does to check it, I scrunch up my face in such a way that she interprets it as me internally saying, "what type of idiot would put this chicken scratch down and call it math." Then when I'm finished scrunching, I turn to her to explain with a bright cheery look on my face explaining the correct things she did and guiding her to fix certain things.

Sheesh. Little does she know that my face scrunching is just me thinking and squinting my eyes to see better without having to worry about how I look on the outside. Apparently, now it is true that LOOKS MATTER.

The second thing she said was that math makes her feel stupid.

Again with the SHEESH. She did have a good explanation, though, that she knows theoretically, but I don't think it translates to her heart of hearts.

She mentioned that (and she cutely says, "I don't mean to sound egotistical, but....") in other classes, she doesn't have to put out much effort to get good grades. Things come naturally to her, and it's just a matter of putting in the time. But with math, she has to actually think and if things don't come instantaneously to her, then it makes her feel stupid because of the experiences she has with other classes.

She also mentioned that even though she feels stupid in math class (now this is a girl that gets high B's and could get A's), inevitably on SATs and other standard tests, math is always her highest score. We thought about it for a bit. I'm not sure, but I think it's because in math class, it's new stuff that students are struggling with, but on standardized tests, it's more like a puzzle, and it's stuff they've seen before.

Anyway ..... here's to me making kids feel stupid .... yet smart at the same time. Woot! Just another job perk.


  1. nice blog.. it would have been more good if there were a couple of photos!
    cool math 4 kids

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  3. I had a student tell me a couple of days ago that I scrunch up my face when I look over her work and it makes her nervous! :) You are not alone!

  4. Don't feel bad -- I've been told the same thing about the faces I make. I had a woman I was working with on some statistics a few years ago get very angry and lash out when I had a "weird" look on my face when I was really just thinking about how much better her handwriting was than mine!