Are you one of those people who tell yourself that you are “bad” at math? Does just the thought of numbers cause you to seize up and maybe start foaming at the mouth?

Relax. You are not bad at math. You have just talked yourself into the belief. Teachers and others may have let you believe it, or may even have encouraged this self-defeating behavior. I do not know why. It’s kind of ridiculous. I’ve even had students seem almost proud of their self-proclaimed ignorance of math (and science). The truly sad thing is simply that anyone would want to think like that.

Apparently there are primary and secondary school teachers and even college instructors who undermine students’ confidence in their math abilities by claiming and displaying their own hatred and contempt for math. This is amazing and very disturbing. If you have ever had such a teacher, I am here to tell you that they were wrong. Math is not some horrible invention of the devil. Instead it is one of the greatest accomplishments of humankind.

Personally, I’m not “bad” at math. I am certainly not a “whiz” at it either, but basic math is simple, easy and oh, so useful. Every adult American — every adult anywhere — should be able to perform simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division in their heads. I can, and so can you.

You are not “bad” at math. You have talked yourself into the belief. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Certainly you can do the math I require for my classes. I don’t require much, and I won’t require anything more than you can handle. But if you continually tell yourself that you can’t, then your mind will accept that assessment and make sure that you get the wrong answers or just give up in despair. That is too bad, because you are better than that. You are smarter than that.

I do not intend to turn this into a pep talk, but I do want to point out this fact and drive it home:

**You are not bad at math**

Want more? Check out this article from the Washington Post: “Stop telling kids you’re bad at math. You are spreading math anxiety ‘like a virus.’”