The other day I was helping my daughter with her math homework and we both had a difficult time understanding what to do. Internally, I found myself going through a cycle of thoughts that are shared by so many millions of people in school:
- “I don’t get it.”
- “This is dumb.”
- “I can’t do this.”
- “I’m not good at math.”
- “I hate math.”
I actually love math. I was really good at math in school so I learned to love it. Why was I feeling this way now?
Because I didn’t get it.
I do not like poetry. I am not looking forward to teaching my daughters about poetry.
This math homework experienced made me realize something. I don’t like poetry because when I was a kid, I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand it. I wasn’t good at writing it. As a writer today, I don’t feel competent enough to create poetry. Therefore, I don’t like it.
But maybe I’m wrong about poetry.
The reason why kids hate school or specific subjects like math, science, or literature is that at some point they didn’t get it and they weren’t able to find someone who could help them push through the uncertainty and gain confidence in learning and performing skills in certain areas.
A key ingredient to the love of learning is very clear instructions. When people know what to do and how to do it, they can can confidence in their abilities. They will be saying “I like math” instead of “I’m not good at math.”
This same phenomenon applies to adults who try new things, by the way.
I’m thinking of the author who avoids marketing and launching their book because they don’t know exactly what to do. When they have clear instructions or models to follow, they find success instead.When they are not sure where to start, they tell themselves they are writers not marketers and they end up doing almost nothing to promote their book.