**Teaching math without context is stupid.** Historically, the math curriculum has been designed so that we teach skills and techniques without any explanation of why they’re important or how you might use them. It’s harder to learn when you can’t see how topics are related.

**Discouraging questions is stupid.** Teachers feel pressure to “get through the material” and many don’t know how to cope with unscripted exploration, and 30 brains thinking 35 different thoughts. But when students ask questions, it means they’re ready to learn something. That’s a golden opportunity! It doesn’t happen on schedule, but it’s the whole point of teaching!

**Expecting everybody to learn the same way, at the same rate, is stupid.** We come in all shapes and sizes, with all different interests, experiences, talents, and struggles. Since our lives are so different, doesn’t it make sense that our thought processes and mental habits are different? When a student doesn’t understand a teacher’s explanation, why do we assume the student is deficient in some way?

**Expecting students to sit still and listen while the teacher talks is stupid. **Students need to get involved in what they’re learning, not just copy the teacher’s example and try to imitate later. At best, that produces trained monkeys who don’t know what do to when they see a different type of problem. And in the real world, all the problems are different.

**Expecting everybody to do the same homework is stupid. **Some students need to do lots of examples. Some need to do just a few, but need to really think about the principles. Some need to draw pictures. Some need to prove the theorem for themselves.

**Expecting everybody to have the same level of ability is stupid. **Not everybody can be good at playing basketball, and that doesn’t mean they’re not trying, they’re bad at sports, they’re a loser, or whatever else discouragers might say. They can still do something for exercise. Not everybody can be good at algebra, but unless they have a severe mental disability, everybody can learn basic math well enough to function, and that’s all some people need.

**Teaching new material when students haven’t understood the previous topic is stupid. **Math, more than any other subject, builds on previous material. It’s better for a student to learn less, but learn it well, so they can actually use it.

If you’ve struggled academically, maybe you learn differently from the way most teachers teach. Maybe you missed a fundamental concept that everything else depended on. Maybe you can’t remember the information because you don’t see how it relates to anything. Maybe you had a bad experience that left you feeling like a failure.

**None of that makes you stupid.** You can take the initiative to figure out how you learn best, ask questions until you get satisfactory answers, and study the topics most relevant to you. And I’d love to help point you in the right direction!