Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Female teachers may pass on math anxiety to girls, study finds

This story strikes me as true. As an elementary teacher I heard women teachers at several schools actually brag about how they couldn't do math. I didn't quite understand why this was a favorite bonding topic, and teachers who were good at math would hang their heads in shame. I remember one female teacher saying, "None of us teachers could do these (4th grade test) problems." This comment obviously included men. Being bad at math seems to be an membership requirement to be accepted into elementary teacher cliques.

Female teachers may pass on math anxiety to girls, study finds
By Karen Kaplan
LA Times
January 26, 2010

After a year in the classroom with female teachers who say they are anxious about math, girls are more likely to share that attitude -- and score lower on tests, researchers say.

Girls have long embraced the stereotype that they're not supposed to be good at math. It seems they may be getting the idea from a surprising source -- their female elementary school teachers.

First- and second-graders whose teachers were anxious about mathematics were more likely to believe that boys are hard-wired for math and that girls are better at reading, a new study has found. What's more, the girls who bought into that notion scored significantly lower on math tests than their peers who didn't.

The gap in test scores was not apparent in the fall when the kids were first tested, but emerged after spending a school year in the classrooms of teachers with math anxiety. That detail convinced researchers that the teachers -- all of them women -- were the culprits.

"Teachers who are anxious about their own math abilities are translating some of that to their kids," said University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock, who led the study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

1 comment:

Coach Tim said...

Why is it okay to say "I'm bad at math" even amongst elementary school teachers? If those same teachers would say "I can't read" then they'd never be hired.