Self-esteem issues are prevalent when it comes to academics, mathematics in particular. If not appropriately addressed, it may eventually become a persistent perception that you simply aren’t good at math.
However, this is often far from the truth, and many factors can contribute to this feeling. By knowing common reasons you may think you suck at math, you can allow yourself to grow past them.
Why Do I Suck At Math?
1. You May Have Dyscalculia
If you’ve heard of dyslexia, you probably know how hard it is for those with dyslexia to enjoy and become proficient in any type of reading activity. A similar affliction called dyscalculia can have the same effect on numbers.
Dyscalculia is a neurological discrepancy that can make it incredibly difficult and frustrating to grasp even the most straightforward mathematical relationships. Dyscalculia affects anywhere from 2.5% to 7.5% of the general population.
Whereas dyslexia can cause readers to misread the order of words or letters, dyscalculia causes the same effect with numbers. This makes grasping even simple numerical concepts such as which number is larger quite tricky.
2. Math Anxiety Is Common
Another reason you may think that you aren’t skilled at math is that math simply causes you intense anxiety. Being anxious during the learning process makes it far more challenging to retain what you’ve been taught.
This can also be multiplied if you have general anxiety, and we’re commonly called upon to solve equations in front of the class or discuss how you came to an answer. This leads to more anxiety and an even greater dislike of math.
3. Attention Disorders Can Hinder Learning
Students diagnosed with any type of attention disorder, like ADD or ADHD, may find that they simply can’t stay focused during learning activities. Medication can often help in situations like these.
One of the most challenging parts of a learning disorder is that the effects are compounded with time. As you get further and further “behind the curve,” keeping up becomes far more challenging and makes the situation more frustrating.
4. You’re Told “Math Isn’t For You”
It seems like an educator should never say something to someone in a formative stage in their life; sometimes, teachers will tell a student that “maybe math just isn’t your strong suit” or something similar.
Imparting this type of sentiment to a student that is already struggling can be incredibly devastating not only to their motivation but to their overall self-esteem. They may even move on to the next stage, knowing the student isn’t ready.
5. Lack Of Interest
For many people, the math just isn’t intriguing enough to hold their attention. Even knowing that it may become necessary to know later in life if the subject isn’t engaging enough can cause the student to lose any interest they had in it.
There are ways to make learning math much more engaging for students of all learning types.
However, knowing what type of learning best suits them can often be challenging, and classes often have a mix of auditory and visual learners.
6. Your Learning Style Differs From The Norm
Modern educators have a much broader skill set to help mitigate this factor, but the problem still exists. In some cases, the student who has a low opinion of their math skills just hasn’t been engaged or taught in a way that helps them.
Many students are auditory learners, meaning they can listen to instructions on how specific problems or equations are solved. Others may need more in-depth illustrations of practical applications of the math for it to make more sense.
7. Lack Of Practice
It’s common for those who think little of their math prowess to have not had the practice they need to properly grasp a particular concept. Homework may seem useless to many, but it’s an excellent opportunity to practice.
Not only can it be used to practice what is currently being learned, but practicing previously taught concepts can help reinforce the foundations that support newer or more advanced concepts.
Practice is necessary for the brain to be able to create, store, and recall things that it has learned, and that practice must take place periodically over time to be most effective.
8. Schooling Differences Are A Factor
A relatively significant factor in how effectively teachers teach and students learn the quality of the school and where it’s located. Numerous studies show how schools differ from one state to another, or even more locally.
Schools are often graded or rated with criteria such as average scores on standardized tests and the percentage of students that graduate to go on to higher education.
This is a factor commonly considered when people are looking for a new home. Many real estate listing companies will automatically link to pertinent neighborhood school information, including the performance of local schools.
9. You Haven’t Found The Right Type Of Math
Evaluating your performance in one type of math as poor may simply mean you haven’t found the right kind of math that you not only enjoy but are skilled at. Mathematics is an incredibly diverse field with many types of math.
Those with trouble with math like algebra may find that they are far more skilled in a branch of math such as accounting. Some may find calculus difficult but discover that they are very good at one of the many types of geometry.
While some types of math may seem relatively elusive and intangible, like trigonometry, finding math that can be applied more readily to daily situations, like statistics, can mean more of a connection, making learning more accessible.
10. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
It may sound cliche, but constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good at math can become a self-fulfilling prophecy by regularly conditioning your brain to be averse to math because you have a preconception that you aren’t good at it.
You can overcome this factor relatively easily by implementing the power of positive thinking. You simply have to stay motivated and determined to figure out the concept you’re struggling with and reinforce to yourself that it takes time.
Eventually, you’ll begin to change your entire mindset regarding learning math, and not only will you look forward to the challenge, but you’ll also find that you’re learning much more quickly than before.
Using this practice on foundational concepts and then applying it to more advanced math will also allow you to build confidence. Before you know it, you’ll be caught up with your peers, and you’ll have reduced your aversion toward math.
11. It Hasn’t Been Made Interesting Enough
If any subject isn’t engaging enough, the brain will find it hard to retain what it has learned or comprehend what has been taught. Learning can fail if learning activities for the math concepts haven’t been made interesting enough.
Many people have thought at one time or another that they suck at math. While this may be true to some extent, there is almost always a reason behind it, and once that reason is understood, you can adjust your learning to compensate.
In many cases, it may mean you need to speak to your instructor about why you’re having difficulty picking up the concepts. Other issues, such as diagnosing dyscalculia, may require further testing in a more official capacity.