According to cognitive psychologist Daniel Willingham, no.

“While it is true that some people are better at math than others — just like some are better than others at writing or building cabinets or anything else — it is also true that the vast majority of people are fully capable of learning k-12 mathematics.”


I was relieved to read this because I’ve assumed I was “bad at math” since the 10th grade.  Apparently this is a common misconception in our society.

A few other quotes from the article that struck me:

“We should expect that mathematical proficiency will require careful cultivation and will develop slowly.  At the same time, we should keep in mind that students are born with the ability to learn math.”

“The automatic retrieval of basic math facts is critical to solving complex problems because complex problems have simpler problems embedded in them.”

“Knowledge of math facts is associated with better performance on more complex math tasks.”


You can read the full article in the American Educator.

Kumon anybody?


Illustrations by Jennifer Orkin Lewis