Task 10 – I just can’t run

Posted by James on Apr 24, 2016

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg0Z–pmPog

Article: http://www.biology.ucr.edu/people/faculty/Garland/Sports_Illustrated_Epstein_sports_genes_2010.pdf

 

One of the things that I liked about the video was the acknowledgment that everybody can do maths, as that saying is massively overshadowed by the sayings ‘I’m not a maths person’ or ‘I just can’t do maths’.

Maths just like most things is a skill that can be learnt through practice and from hard work. From the video you can see that scientists have found areas of the brain that are specifically for the use of maths. This indicates that there is no predisposition to being bad at maths, it is more your individual attitude towards it that counts. This idea is supported by Professor Carol Dweck whose work in growth mindsets states that your effort in a subject has a direct link with your improvement/learning and that your brain can grow and develop based upon your actions and your learning. Meaning that if you put enough effort in you can improve your mathematical ability.

This is also supported by a study that was performed using London taxi drivers. In the study they found that the taxi drivers brains changed from having to learn all of the roads/routes and a part of their brains increased in size.

It was mentioned in the video the possibility of having a predisposition to maths. That this could have come from an early exposure to mathematics. That those students who do maths at home or who are encouraged to do maths through work etc from a young age are much more likely to be ‘good at maths’.

The article suggests that talent does exist and that it is in our genetics, but that is not the end of the story. What makes people great is their grit and determination, a person that decided to get out of bed at 5 am rather than have an extra hours sleep, a person that spent hours practicing shooting a basketball at a hoop, or a person who spent 4 hours a day practicing maths. As humans we are all predispositioned to be phenomenal long distance and endurance runners, it is in our genes and our DNA. It has come from our evolution and allowed us to become what we are today. Then why are people such as Paula Radcliff, Eddie Izzard and Kilian Jornet such a rarity. Why aren’t we all running the London marathon 2.5 hours? We have the talent and we have the genes, so is it because we just don’t work hard enough, or we don’t practice enough, or we aren’t dedicated enough. Again as the video has shown, and Science has proven we are predispotioned to have an understanding of maths. Therefore similar to long distance running it is our lack of desire and grit to want to continue with the effort and practice that it takes to be good at something. This is the stumbling block for the people who say ‘I just can’t do maths’.

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