In my house, I’m known for my ridiculous “theories”. Whether it’s from a tenuously trustworthy website or just something I heard on the playground of life, my imagination can run away from me sometimes. My middle name should really be Placebo.
In spite of this, I occasionally hit the mark. I’m starting to discover, for instance, that something I’ve always intuitively felt about school homework may be proving itself in research. For years, as both a teacher and parent, I’ve felt very unsure and concerned about the conventionally wise stance that parents helping their children with school homework is always a good thing. When it comes to math homework, it seems, math anxious parents assisting their children can have the reverse effect.
In their study into the impact of math anxious parents on their children’s growth in math, Dr. Sian Beilock and her University of Chicago Human Performance Lab colleagues discovered:
When math anxious parents help their kids with their math homework, although good intentioned, their math anxiety can be transferred to the kids. When [they] help their kids with homework, they learn less math across the school year.
I’m fascinated by this notion that anxiety is something that is almost literally contagious, and that sometimes the best policy is not to intervene, even though much of modern parenting pressures us into stepping in to interrupt struggle at all times. If you’d like to hear more, check out the Mom and Dad are Fighting episode which follows.
- love hearing honest parents talk about this crazy endeavour they’ve undertaken;
- have always wondered if you’re really helping your child all that much by sitting with them and their homework.
- teach media literacy;
- have wondered about the value of news media on our lives.
- want to learn more about research into human motivation and mental health;
- have ever wondered if you could create a game to heal from a physical or mental injury.
- are fascinated by the study of behavioural economics;
- love stories where changing a human system helped make it more equitable;
- have ever wondered if there was a better way to match people into teams and organizations.
- would love to hear the story of the first black man in Chicago advertising and how he changed the industry forever.