Noah Smith's and my Quartz column "There's One Key Difference Between Kids Who Excel at Math and Those Who Don't" was also published in the Atlantic online as "The Myth of 'I'm Bad at Math.'" This is by more than an order of magnitude the most popular thing I have ever written. That might even be true for Noah. I followed up with the column "How to Turn Every Child into a 'Math Person'." Our message of "You, too, can learn math" should be clear enough, but such is the racism in our society, that when it comes to disadvantaged minorities, the message "You, too, can learn math" needs to be reiterated. Until we see the potential in everyone, regardless of race or household income, prejudice continues.
The article linked above, "How Does Race Affect a Student's Math Education" talks about racial obstacles to everyone getting the message that the ability to do math is as nearly universal as the ability to read. Letting someone believe they can't learn to do math is like letting someone believe they can't learn to read. Either is cruel in the extreme.
Sometimes people don't realize that math comes slowly to almost everyone. Those who spend a lot of time thinking about math get good at it. On this theme, in addition to "How to Turn Every Child into a 'Math Person'," see
- Cathy O'Neil on Slow-Cooked Math
- Mary O'Keeffe on Slow-Cooked Math
- Fields Medal Winner Maryam Mirzakhani's Slow-Cooked Math.
Thanks to Richard Watson for pointing me to this article.