UVM instructor says success in math starts with right frame of mind

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 5:14 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Parents of students may often hear their children complain about math, including anxiousness that can leave some feeling physically sick. And that anxiety could prevent them from pursuing high-paying careers where math is a key component.

Joan Rosebush, the director of student success in the University of Vermont’s Department of Mathematics and Engineering, says math can be hard but sometimes people give up too easily.

“I feel as though not being able to do math, quite frankly, is socially acceptable. And so when a student says to me, ‘You know, I can’t do math, math scares me.’ It’s like, ‘Well, that was the old you. The new you -- you want to do it. I’m going to help you. If I have to spend a million hours with you, I will,’” she says.

In addition to one-on-one help for students, Rosebush also recommends parents and teachers get to know students well so that students are comfortable asking for help and so that teachers know when tough love or humor can help, and also pointing out even the smallest of successes.