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Thread: not good at math? (Outliers/Gadwell)

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    Default not good at math? (Outliers/Gadwell)

    As I calculated my son's ALEKS time this morning, it got me thinking....


    Since it takes 10,000 to become skilled at something (Gladwell) so for a FT working adult (40 hrs week * 50 weeks), that's about 5 years. OTOH, kids in school preK-12 spend ~88 hours per year on math. At that rate, it takes them 113 years.

    For fun:

    traditional math schedule 176 days/year, 55 minute sessions for prek-12 is about 1800 hours at graduation. REVISED: 1100 hours ...oops, that's grim!
    instead
    you could do just 18 minutes of math every day of your life (practical application as well as formal pencil/paper), from age 1 to age 17 and you'd have EQUAL contact hours. 1800

    So to hit the 10,000 hour mark by end of high school, you need closer to 555 hours per YEAR up until graduation. That's roughly 1.5 hours per day, every day or 3 hours per school day.

    (I'd propose that this is why homeschooled kids don't do as much math formally but test equally/better, their homelife is a bit more edu-focused lending to more exposure on a daily basis)

    So, is anyone really not "good" at math, or have we simply not put in the face time?
    Last edited by cookderosa; 01-06-2012 at 01:58 PM.
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    Those are some perplexing thoughts. In my experiences and those around me; I would answer the question as the amount of "face time" helps to make someone good at math. However, everyone does not need the same amount of "face time" to be good at math. In my case, I need very little "face time" with math because I understood it very easily.
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    Yeah, but according to Gladwell unless the kid was born in January/February/March he's pretty much screwed by the educational system anyway. Actually I am only a couple of chapters in, but couldn't resist.

    I think we have a nation that is predominantly convinced that math is too hard or too difficult. I think that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for many. We sure are struggling with it at my house!
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    Quote Originally Posted by nleamons View Post
    Those are some perplexing thoughts. In my experiences and those around me; I would answer the question as the amount of "face time" helps to make someone good at math. However, everyone does not need the same amount of "face time" to be good at math. In my case, I need very little "face time" with math because I understood it very easily.

    I obviously need more since I just found a mistake in mine lol. It's closer to 1100 hours, not 1800 (prek-through 12th grade.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel100 View Post
    Yeah, but according to Gladwell unless the kid was born in January/February/March he's pretty much screwed by the educational system anyway. Actually I am only a couple of chapters in, but couldn't resist.

    I think we have a nation that is predominantly convinced that math is too hard or too difficult. I think that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for many. We sure are struggling with it at my house!
    Not Jan/Feb/March for school, that's for hockey. For school, my kids are a PERFECT example. My son Matt's birthday is Sept 13, 5 days after the cut off. So, he's as old as he can possibly be in his grade (he could technically be only up to 5 days older). My other 3 sons are all in late August (like me!) and they are as young as possible in their grade. I was always the youngest, and could only be 1.5 weeks younger and still in my grade (or I would have been bumped).

    With a straight face, I will tell you I planned my 3 son's birthdays, they are all within 10 days of each other. If I'd read Gladwell's book THEN, I would have had them in September...but I didn't know better.
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    This is a great thread and I agree with several comments so far. YES you do need to spend the time on math and YES it is also something that can be a mental block.

    I was always told by my loving and well-meaning mother that it was ok if I didn't like math because girls were better at English and communication than math and science. I remember hearing this many times throughout the years and guess what? I always thought I was bad at math.

    As an adult, I still believed this until I found ALEKS. I realized that I really was capable of learning math and I could probably be very good at it, if I put in the time and effort. However, ha ha ha, in my world, I don't use a lot of math beyond calculating sales percent to plan and I didn't want to spend time on it, so I chose not to.

    Using ALEKS, Khan Academy, and other youtube videos has also opened my eyes to the fact that we need to have more options available to support varied learning styles. Maybe that's why we're doing so bad at math as a country? Perhaps the traditional teaching methods are good for a select few, but aren't broad enough to support the different ways that math can be taught.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rebel100 View Post
    I think we have a nation that is predominantly convinced that math is too hard or too difficult. I think that becomes a self fulfilling prophecy for many.
    I think this statement gets to the root of the problem; plus we (as a nation) do not spend enough time studying.

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    I don't think our government wants us to be good at math--then we would easily see (and understand) all the financial problems
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    Quote Originally Posted by bricabrac View Post
    I think this statement gets to the root of the problem; plus we (as a nation) do not spend enough time studying.
    I'm starting to come to some other conclusions about what the problem is..

    My 4 year old just started pre-school and already knows how to add and subtract, not to mention read quite a few words and has for a while. However, his pre-school is just barely teaching the kids letters and numbers. It's hard for me to be excited to take my son to school when I think that they're WAY behind what the kids are capable of and they haven't even started school yet! At this point, I take him for the social interaction, but make sure that we work on math, science and reading a little bit every day. There are some pretty cool iPad apps that help with this. My kids can rock an iPad and it seems to supplement my teaching very nicely. My 2 year old has even started with addition and subtraction and knows all of her letters in English and Spanish.

    So, based on what I've seen with my little ones, they're either totally brilliant above and beyond their age, or we start off a little behind and probably don't ever catch up.
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    I read that the average distance in years education-wise for children in elementary and middle school is 6 years from the lowest to the highest achievers. That means that in 6th grade the bottom achievers are capable of 3rd grade level work and the top achievers are equivalent to the average 9th grader. This makes sense. This is why school is so boring more the 90% of students who are not at the level the teacher and curriculum is geared for.

    I could read on a third grade level in kindergarten and was so bored in school I often had to sit in the refrigerator box while the rest of the class did mind numbing assignments. Of course, my advanced status wore off around my freshman year in college as I became more interested in tanning, gym, girls and fast cars!
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