17-year-old girl well expresses the
feelings of many students for whom failure
in mathematics is felt as lack of
<<When you can't do
something, it's not that it isn't normal, it's not
that you have a grudge against it ... it's
difficult to say! I enjoy it when we're taught
something, when we've something to do. To be able
to do it. Because you have to be able to do it: it
has to be at your level.
You're given it, you have
to be able to do it! Otherwise, as soon as there's
a snag, something you can't do or you say, Drat
What's going on? Why can't I do it? I'm stupid,
it's no good!' ... That's how it is. When you're
given something, you have to know how to do it.
That's how it is in the course, in class: some can
do it, others can't.>>
For students like this there
are two sorts of people, those Who understand and
those who don't. They also say you're either good
or bad at maths".
So mathematics, through its
rigour, that is to say through its constant refusal
to entertain ambiguity, will more than any other
discipline, revive anxieties arising from noticing
And revive, perhaps more
fundamentally, anxieties bout castration which
manifest differences between the Sexes on which all
other differences may be based.
surprises me: there was a girl who was getting very
good marks at the beginning of the year and then
afterwards she wasn't doing so well. The teacher
said to her, 'I thought you were intelligent, and
you're not'. Drat! 1 reacted to that! If maths is a
matter of intelligence, well 1 haven't got much.
Well, I was a bit disheartened at this point, and
then 1 said to myself. you're alright at French,
there's not much logic in language, it must be a
matter of a different sort of intelligence there.
But 1 don't know, 1 ask myself, if you're good at
maths, does that mean you're more intelligent than
someone else? I don't believe that's the case ...
in short, it depends. 1 have friends who are really
good at maths, it's unimaginable! They do lots of
theorems and exercises.>>