Some Thoughts, More Questions. Math-Brave.

I found myself recently seeking the opposite of math-phobia. That might be math-love or math-attraction, but I believe is more aptly math-brave.

I was never math-phobic, but I did avoid math at a certain juncture in my life. I took AP Calc, and I remember being really motivated by "If I do well, I won't have to do this again." I don't think it occurred to me to take stock of what I enjoyed and did well at. (I was recently surprised to see my math grades were consistently higher than my other grades on my own High School transcript.)

I find myself examining my female role models at the time. I had mixed messages. My mom openly expressed a love for math, and worked in Computer Science. My aunt, who I was very close to, freely described fear and loathing of mathematics. "I can't do math," was something I heard her say on a regular basis. In my undergraduate years, I took Logic and loved it. It was one of my favorite classes, and I grew close with the professor.

I feel so lucky that I was able to come back around to math as an adult. I love this content, and love continuing to learn more about it.  In the past year, I took 18 credits in upper level mathematics courses  and ended with a 4.0. My coursework included Linear Algebra, which I was “warned” by well-intentioned colleagues would be rigorous. Getting my grade back was euphoric.

Grades are only one metric, and I hope my students aren't judging themselves by their grades. (Again, I didn't realize how good my grades were in High School Math.)

What happened to me between "If I do well in AP Calc, I won't have to do this again" and "I want to take Linear Algebra because it is challenging." ?  How do I replicate it for my own students?


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