Is There Such A Thing As A “Math Person?”

Is math ability determined by nature or nurture? Miles Kimball of Quartz, an online news outlet, claims that “everyone should think of herself or himself as a ‘math person.'” According to a “2007 National Institutes of Health Public Access twin study…genes account for somewhere in the range from 32% to 45% of mathematical skill at age 10.” That means that over 50% of mathematical skill is determined by the environment, and it is therefore crucial to make sure kids are surrounded by a math-positive environment.

“If a kid has a bad experience with trying to learn to read in school, or is bored with the particular books the teacher assigned, few parents would say “Well, maybe you just aren’t a reader…” Similarly, if a kid has a bad experience trying to learn math in school, or is bored with some bits of math, the answer isn’t to say “Well maybe you just aren’t a math person.” Instead, it is to find some other way to help that kid with math and to find other bits of math that would be exciting for their particular kid to help build her or his interest and confidence.”

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