There are plenty of stereotypes out there. Some, are more offensive than others, but stereotypes don’t evolve from nothing.
Walter Lippmann, renowned American journalist, was the first to use the term stereotype. He observed that many people often rely on stereotypes, or form new stereotypes to make sense of the constant, ever-changing world.
So, stereotypes are made for a reason, but that doesn’t mean they’re always right. In fact, some stereotypes can be very harmful. Other stereotypes, are harmful in other ways.
Let’s take a look at one stereotype: “All Asians are good at math.” Why is this? There are several possibilities, but the reason I will discuss further is the relationship between math and language.
According to an article done by the Wall Street Journal, there are certain languages that adapt better with math. This could be the very reason why these particular languages catch onto the language much more quickly than languages, such as English, that don’t accommodate as well for math.
For example, The Wall Street Journal gave an example of trouble starting at the English “11.” Where languages, like Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Turkish will say “one-ten.”
Essentially, English math is hardest to learn because of the amount of names to numbers, compared to Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Turkish.
For this very reason, many U.S. teachers have started to lean more towards a “make-a-ten” method. This technique is popular in first grade classes for adding and subtracting.
Still there are others who have tried for children and students to learn English math with its traditional terminology. The English math is played by children in various games and situation so that it’s easier to catch onto the terminology.
So are Asians really better at math? Studies tell us that they certainly have the linguistic foundation to fulfill that stereotype. That being said, native English speakers can start using a few of these techniques and put emphasis on math being fun in order to be just as successful.
Regardless, a need exists to change how English speakers teach math.