we can be good at math

Between being sick, and trying to figure stuff out for how to re-align my life for this semester, I managed to wake up late this morning…..BUT! I made it 1 minute before my first class started at 8am!! #yay

This class…is a math class.

#notyay #butYESYAYbecause #override #anythingispossible! #readmoretoseewhy

I am in my 3rd year here at university and have avoided it for this long [LOL how]. But like 2019 is turning out to show and teach me every day– there’s just no hiding anymore! ((-:

The last math classes I took was in high school. It was AP AB Calculus in my junior year, and AP Stats senior year. With regards to the Calc, I was in that class because it was the only thing left I could take without stepping down the ladder in terms of math difficulty, and because I was pressured into it by myself (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??” ) and friends (“why not take another AP to impress colleges but also lowkey upholdyour intellectual status at this school and unrealistically inflate your GPA like the rest of us  hmm??”)… and parents (“why not take another AP to impress colleges hmm??”).

Needless to say, I did not want to be there.

This negative outlook stemmed, I think, from a lot of different things, and I really only started to understand it last semester.

This particular bout of introspection came when we were discussing epistemological beliefs within my practicum as I was training to become a digital learning center tutor.

It’s a big complicated phrase [and I may or may not still have trouble getting it out of my mouth without tripping on it somehow LOL] that basically talks about how we as humans conceptualize our own knowledge, and how we think about learning and its processes.

Do we think that learning is about facts and knowing? Do we believe that learning is a continuum that constantly evolves with time and experience? Do we believe that we can learn differently? Are we stagnant in our learning? Are we certain that things can only be a certain way, and that we can’t learn any differently?

In my case, I always told myself I was bad at math. Not gonna lie, I did this because I wanted to assimilate myself with my mother growing up, who had always said she was bad at math.

I have absolutely no issue [in fact, it’s *so* encouraged!] to make mental notes and observations about what you’re good and not so good at.

But I was telling myself I was bad at math like it was some genetic issue, not because I had legitimately tried time after time and fallen on my face repeatedly during my math courses. I mean, there’s no doubt I fell on my face in a variety of math classes, but I also had to step back and look at this in itself: “falling on my face” meant getting slightly lower grades than my peers.

At no point was I ever legitimately “failing” math. I think the worst grade I ever took home was in the high D/ C range. But no matter what grade I received, there was always a tiny voice that seemed to just ramble on without any real precedence, “I’m just not good at math”.

In the practicum it hit me. My learning, especially as of late, thank the Lord above, has been anything but stagnant. It’s been anything but “you’re just not good at X”. Hell, these past few years? I’ve been telling myself “how do we make X happen?” and then I just…do it. [A lot of this refers to procrastination issues but LOL that’s a tale for another time.]

Putting limits on the way you learn is such a sad thing to even think into existence. There’s almost *always* more than one way to do something, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised when I walked into my 8am math class today.

Not only was the professor so nice, so spritely, and passionate about the subject matter… she made it very clear to us that she loves teaching, that she’s an adjunct, that she gets a personal thrill every morning at 8am to be here in her ripe age of 65. Add in the fact that she’s very blunt and candid and brash with a southern twang?!?

LOL.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed math more. She reminds me of my mother and my father’s mother all rolled into one and LOL it’s a fantastic combination.

But as I was sitting there, I was reviewing concepts that had fallen by the wayside, that had gotten rusty, that were a bit fuzzy on the edges. But I did the stepping back and was honest with myself. It’s been what, 3 years? LOL. Time to read up!

And it wasn’t bad at all! Stepping back to look at everything objectively, with confidence in myself [and a bit of hyperfocus**], I was able to think about how this was totally doable, and totally in my reach.

Malcom Gladwell has made the statement that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. Who says that something can’t be totally new? Or totally foreign? Or something you thought you were terrible at, but now have the courage to revisit?

**I refer to [surprisesurprise] Chris Bailey here. Another reason I think I did so “poorly” in math in middle and high school was because I was *not* in control of my attention at all. Phones and other tech at that age had… a bigger impact on my ability to focus and do well than I ever thought at the time, and so being able to see how to reign in my focus for things that are important to me, for things I want to succeed in, has been *such* a help.

What are *your* epistemological beliefs?

Better yet…How can you flip them upside down?

Onwards!
xx

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