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Work Hard; Learn Math (or Whatever You Set Your Mind To)

Miles Kimball and Noah Smith, professors of economics and finance, respectively, argue in The Atlantic that the United States needs to reconsider its move "from a culture of hard work toward a culture of belief in genetic determinism." We should start, they say, by rethinking how we conceive of mathematical ability.

While Kimball and Smith acknowledge that "essentially none of us" could give Terence Tao a run for his mathematical money, they claim that, where high school math is concerned, hard work, preparation, and self-confidence matter more than inborn talent. The pair cites studies attesting to the ill effects of believing that intelligence is nonmalleable.

We in America have overly pessimistic attitudes about our abilities in arenas beyond math, but 

Math is the great mental bogeyman of an unconfident America. If we can convince you that anyone can learn math, it should be a short step to convincing you that you can learn just about anything, if you work hard enough.

Read the essay.

Start Date: 
Wednesday, November 13, 2013