Encouraging Girls to Keep Going in Their Math Learning
"I see the world through math-colored glasses"
Before the TED Radio Hour journalist begins his interview with Phylecia Jones, he recounts a true story about a 911 emergency operator who received a deep-distress call from a young student who was struggling with a set of math problems.
Phylecia is a former computer scientist and systems engineer for the U.S. Navy, who then started her own business as a financial advisor. She is among a group of STEM experts featured on a podcast series called Don’t Fear Math that you can find on ted.npr.org. And she is here is to break myths people internalize that tell them they can’t do math.
She said in a TED Talk that studies show many girls begin to lose interest in math at age 15, secretly believing they’re just not good at it. “You’ve got a 15-year old girl who is sitting on an idea that can change how we manage finances, but she’s about to close the book on it…”
Phylecia’s mission is to set young girls straight on the truth that they can succeed in math learning. Her starting point: “Tell every girl in your life she’s great at math.”
“I see the world through math-colored glasses,” she says. “Math is so much fun to me. It can take you anywhere you want to go. But girls don’t know that unless we start telling them.”
Phylecia reminds us that Katherine Johnson was once a 15-year old girl encouraged by her parents to stay with her passion for math learning––and later helped NASA get to the moon. She underscores that all everyone needs to know is that anyone can be great at even just basic math concepts, and empowered with belief in their essential ability to learn math.
That’s where the DreamBox comes in. And no wonder kids in the K-8 grade range learn so much in the program and have so much fun with it. They’re at prime ages to gain and keep math confidence. “For every 11-year old that is jazzed about her coding club or her robotics team, here’s the thing with those girls,” says Phylecia. “They already know they’re good at math.” And they’re excited to stay on track with it.
The NPR Journalist seems inspired by Phylecia Jones’ certainty that rewiring the way students may think about math can open so many wonderful doors. “Because math is woven into the patterns of the universe. It allows us to understand big ideas,” he says. “And, in a way, it’s…kind of beautiful.”