There is this long-standing belief that some children are simply born with a “math brain”, that is, that learning math is easy for them, while some just don’t have it. Maria Miller, however, disproves all that in an article for HomeSchoolMath.
Amazing brain plasticity
According to Miller, practically all children are capable of learning all of K-12 math as long their brains are normal and they are not suffering from any kind of learning disability. The reason for this, she says, is that the brain has this amazing plasticity, which allows it to change, grow, and rewire itself to take on new challenges.
She makes an example of Cameron, a young girl suffering from a rare condition called Rasmussen’s syndrome that required half of her brain removed, the right hemisphere to be exact. Amazingly, she recovered from this and is now a good student in school.
Her point here is that with brain plasticity, growing a few more synapses to learn math is not impossible. Miller says learning math has less to do with the brain itself than with the mindset children have developed over the years. She says there are those with a fixed mindset, which believes that one’s intelligence is already fixed and unchanging. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is all about facing challenges, that as long as children make an effort, they can learn.
Encourage mistakes with more challenging work
Where does brain plasticity come in? It comes in as we struggle with a certain task or problem. According to Miller, the brain actually grows new neurons and synapses in the process. When we make mistakes, the brain actually grows, and eventually helps any child to learn. Miller says we should encourage mistakes with more challenging work, which would trigger brain growth.
With the way Miller puts, the value of mistakes in math learning is incalculable. Just remember that when our children do make mistakes, we should not put them down. Instead, we should deal with them in the right manner, and that right manner is showing them that we value these mistakes because it helps their brain grow.
To read the full article, click here.