For high school math, inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation and self-confidence.
How do we know this? First of all, both of us have taught math for many years — as professors, teaching assistants and private tutors. Again and again, we have seen the following pattern repeat itself:
Different kids with different levels of preparation come into a math class. Some of these kids have parents who have drilled them on math from a young age, while others never had that kind of parental input.
On the first few tests, the well-prepared kids get perfect scores, while the unprepared kids get only what they could figure out by winging it — maybe 80 or 85 percent, a solid B.
The unprepared kids, not realizing that the top scorers were well-prepared, assume that genetic ability was what determined the performance differences. Deciding that they…
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