Although young girls generally score better on math tests than do boys, as they get closer to adolescence they tend to fall farther and farther behind. This discomfort, disinterest, or just plain difficulty (technically called “math anxiety,” and also seen in boys) is often reinforced by parents (especially mothers) making comments to their children (especially daughters) such as, “Well, I never liked math either,” or “I never was any good at math,” or “Well, we Smiths just don’t seem to have mathematical minds.”
Statements like these imply that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable for a child not to excel in math. They also seem to hint toward feelings of, “Well, I’m no good at math and I’ve done just fine without it. You will too.”
Never have I met a parent (although they may exist) who would say to a child, “Well, I never liked reading either,” or “I was never any good at thinking myself,” or even, “Well, we Smiths just don’t seem to have historical minds.” So why is it acceptable to promote math illiteracy to our kids when we would never promote other illiteracy?