Schools sometimes undermine students' confidence in their ability to learn.
Marie, an ordinarily outgoing 8th grader, shuts down in math class. She dislikes word problems and avoids games like Tic Tac Toe Squares, which involves finding the square root of numbers less than 1,000. Once an engaged math student, Marie now sits silently in large-group math instruction, hoping not to be noticed. She is relieved when her teacher does not call on her. She participates tentatively in small-group work and never volunteers to do problems at the board.
After being moved from advanced math to regular math last year, Marie believes she is no longer a competent math student. Her math teacher told her that she "wasn't well equipped" and couldn't keep up with her peers in advanced math. Marie now dreads the many years of math classes ahead of her and rushes through her nightly math homework, which she finds boring and difficult. Once curious about math concepts, she now rarely thinks about the world mathematically because she has come to regard herself as "not good at that kind of stuff."
A Vicious Cycle