February 12, 2024 | Everything Has Meaning

Not a Math Person?

by Rachel Becham

With our upcoming Grammar School Math Carnival in view, we’re sharing these thoughts on the study of math from Rachel Becham, 5th grade teacher. 

“God, all nature sings Thy glory, and Thy works proclaim Thy might;
Ordered vastness in the heavens, ordered course of day and night;
Beauty in the changing seasons, beauty in the storming sea;
All the changing moods of nature praise the changeless Trinity.” 

We begin math class each day by singing this verse, and as I remind the students almost daily, it is one of my most favorite hymns and so very fitting for math! We have the gift of getting to study the beautiful order inherent in the cosmos. Through math, we see more about God’s dazzling creation. 

This, however, was not always my perspective on math. If you met me as a teenager, I would have squarely put myself in the camp of “not a math person.” I didn’t see the point of learning computations beyond calculating simple tax or understanding percentages well. This kind of thinking was a result of the reason I believed math was to be studied. What I didn’t understand was that math is a beautiful gift that we get to enjoy – even if the enjoyment of it comes with more struggle for some than for others.

I’m so grateful for the change that I have undergone by shifting my perspective, and found myself really resonating with this blog post from the Circe Institute. Lindsay Brigham Knott says,

“My education had taught me how to do math, but as I became familiar with the classical quadrivium’s esteem of number as the pinnacle of contemplation, I realized I had no grasp of the meaning of math—and that this was a grievous thing.”

Part of my coaching in fifth grade is pushing back against student’s natural impulse to categorize themselves based on what they find most entertaining and interesting, rather than approaching each subject with a humble, wonder-filled spirit. 

If you hear your child bemoan math or claim that they are just “not a math person,” push back! Let’s model for them the life-skill of embracing struggle. Let’s remind them how both the skills they’re learning and the labor of learning itself helps us explore the vast beauty of the Father’s world.

Looking for ways to inspire and nourish your student’s exploration of math? This collection of math picture books curated Read-Aloud Revival is a great resource.