Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Girls and Math: My Own Kid

Today is second-grade daughter's last day of school, and we were going over the latest topics they had learned in math. It was basic multiplication, with one-digit numbers. Then she asked how you multiply numbers with more than one digit, so on some scrap paper I showed her the longhand form: how you start with the one's place and work to the left, etc. She took to it quickly, so I showed her how to multiply a 3-digit number by a 2-digit number. Again, no problem - she got how to carry numbers over, where to line up the second row of numbers, etc. She then spent about five minutes running around singing "I love math, I'm a mathematician." She brought her scrap paper with her to school so she could proudly show her teacher.

I hope this joy of math lasts through high school and beyond, and I'm going to do what I can to encourage her excitement with numbers. I remember clearly loving math in school, and being quite good at it, but not being openly encouraged by teachers. This made me so shy that I rarely raised my hand, even though I knew the answers and did well on exams. I went on to become an engineer, but I knew plenty of girls who started out great in math, and for whatever reason lost interest in it.

Maybe things are a little different now, and my daughters will be as math-savvy as their male peers, and won't be shy about letting them know.