Friday, August 19, 2011

Math Aptitude? An American Illusive Handicap! I promise you, everyone has it.


So many studies confuse the public about math aptitude and too many American children end up believing that they are bad at math. Math phobia is a national disaster and an unhealthy phobia allowed by early education. I promise you it is not true. This study is confirming that math concepts exists in all people including infants and people with no formal education.

By SINDYA N. BHANOO
Published: August 11, 2011

Children as young as 3 have a “number sense” that may be correlated with mathematical aptitude, according to a new study.

Melissa Libertus, a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University.

Melissa Libertus, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues looked at something called “number sense,” an intuition — not involving counting — about the concepts of more and less. It exists in all people, Dr. Libertus said, including infants and indigenous peoples who have had no formal education.

The researchers measured this intuition in preschoolers by displaying flashing groups of blue and yellow dots on a computer screen. The children had to estimate which group of dots was larger in number. Since the display was fleeting, they had to use their number sense rather than count the dots.

Children with a better number sense were also better at simple math problems the researchers posed. The children were asked to count the number of images on a page out loud, read Arabic numbers and make other simple calculations.

Previous studies have shown that there is a connection between number sense and mathematical ability in adolescents. But this is the first study to explore the connection in children with little formal education.

“We were interested in the earliest math abilities that children have, from before they enter school,” Dr. Libertus said. Understanding this could help level the playing field in mathematics among children.

Dr. Libertus hopes that, with more insight, games or training programs could be developed for children to improve their number sense.

The research is reported in a recent issue of the journal Developmental Science.