It looks like Sam is a math “winner” and Jessica is a math “loser,” and from their stories, you have some idea of how this happened.
You probably also know some real-life math “winners” and “losers.” In fact, you might learn some important things about math instruction by talking about learning math with other people—some “math losers” and some “math winners,” for instance. If you are working on this unit in a class, your instructor can help arrange small group discussions about this view of math instruction. But, if you’re on your own, try to find a friend, colleague, or family member with whom to discuss these things:
- Are you (and the person you are talking to) a math “winner,” or “loser”? Why? How did you get that way?
- Should there be “winners” and “losers” in any school subjects? Why or why not?
- Can someone who is good (or has the potential to be good) at math become a math “loser”? How does that happen?
- Are some kinds of children more likely to become winners (or losers)? Which kinds?
- What can schools, teachers, and paraprofessionals do to make fewer “losers” and more “winners?”
These questions are hard to answer, and they raise lots of interesting questions about the work we all do as educators! As you talk with others about these questions and the issues they raise, keep mental or written notes about how to use your insights to benefit students.