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How To Overcome Math Negative Self Talk - Part 1

Purpose:  This series shares tips on how to identify, manage, and overcome Mathematics Negative Self Talk (NST).  We cannot avoid NST totally because the NST about Math skills in general is a widely accepted habit.

So what is Mathematics NST anyway?  Mathematics NST is when we speak in our minds or to others about an inability to learn, do, and/or understand Mathematics in general.  Focus here is what we cannot do or have never done in Mathematics.  For example, "I hate Math."  "I  can't do Math!"  "This is too complicated!"  " I could never do Math!" "My parents aren't good at Math either." "What can we use Algebra for anyway?"  "The teacher is confusing me."  The NST phrases list is endless, but also popular in today’s culture.

Downside of NST: NST in Math is simply a bad habit of thinking and attitude.  This habit limits learning Math and acts as a source of Math Anxiety.  This leads to unproductiveness as far as learning in the classroom.  Habits can be broken if we choose to do so.  NST in Math is a source of Mathematics Anxiety.

Tip 1:  NST in Mathematics is simply a bad habit - respect the power of the habit.  Recognize and respect the power of NST in Mathematics.  Do not submit to this habit, if you can choose to do otherwise. 

Tip 2:  Replace the NST habit with Positive Self Talk (PST).  Suggest alternative language.  Help students determine what they do not understand or have not learned yet that limits their performance on Mathematics assessments.  Reinforce the PST habit with recall of how you learned other subjects and skills.  If you can learn other disciplines or subjects, you can learn Mathematics too.

Comment:  The truth is that we like and use general Math.  We like to use time, get paid reasonable wages for working, checking stock options, sports scores, labor statistics, etc. all involve Math to enjoy or appreciate.  Students and educators alike must realize that general Math is all around us every day.  Higher level math like Calculus, Operations Research, Differential Equations, etc.….that’s a completely different story.

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