Another post for no one to read.

It seems to me that too many (math) teachers in Sweden are afraid to tell the truth. Or maybe they think they are being nice. Or supportive. Whatever the reason, I constantly encounter students who have been told for years that they are good in math when in reality they do not understand even basic ideas and lack the most fundamental skills and knowledge needed to progress.

I think these previous teachers have done these children a great disservice by ignoring their problems and giving them a false sense of success instead of helping them to achieve real success. The students often have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that they need extra help and support and don’t understand as well as they were led to believe. And until they come to that realization, they are unable to improve.

Maybe the plan was to try and build their confidence, but in the long run it has the opposite effect since the shock of reality is often pretty painful after years of being misled.

Instead of trying to give students a false sense of success to avoid making them feel stupid, the time and energy should be spent on helping children and parents understand that it is okay to need extra help in math and to get rid of the Swedish national fear of labeling (stämpling) – a fear which gives rise to often destructive behavior and policies.

These misguided attempts to protect children usually end up hurting them more in the long run.