What makes a student good at math?
As teachers, we all hope our students will become good at math. But to realize this we need to fully understand what math is, and what it isn’t (see Blind Procedures, above). So now we ask: What are the key attributes that enable a student to become good at math?
- Striving to understand deeply. We want our students to expect that they will understand the concepts they encounter. Good math students are never satisfied with going through a procedure without understanding what they are doing.
- Asking good questions. Good math students are curious, and wonder “what if…?” They question why something is true, and they become skillful at articulating questions.
- Making mistakes. Contrary to what many people think, mistakes are an important part of learning math. Good math students don’t let mistakes discourage them. In fact, mistakes can motivate one to find the truth and make mathematical discoveries. We want our students to become comfortable with making mistakes, and to learn from their mistakes.
- Working through your struggles. For many students, math teaches them how to struggle. Good math students persevere through their challenges; they are always determined to succeed.
Of course, all of the above (which may also be cultivated by the proper teaching of other subjects) shows how our students learn many life lessons through studying math.