Thank you for considering a contribution to the edited book The Struggle is Real: Stories of Struggle and Resilience on the Path to Becoming a Mathematician.
Math is hard. We've all heard it, and a lot of us have said it. The problem that arises from using this statement is the effect it has on many students' attitudes toward mathematics, especially early on in their math education. Math is hard, but "struggling with math" should not be interpreted as "incapable of doing math." Even those students who have a natural affinity for mathematical thinking will eventually come to a place where they struggle. This is part of the learning process, but too often it is used, albeit unintentionally, to discourage students. What we should be saying is something such as "math is hard, and that's okay." Working through something that's hard can be incredibly rewarding!
The goal of "The Struggle is Real" project is to talk openly about the struggles we have faced on the road to becoming a mathematician. These might be struggles related to mathematical concepts, study skills, or research. More broadly, they might center on barriers that arise from issues of identity, diversity, and inclusion. Whatever the case may be, the goal is to talk about it, to share personal stories, and start to break down the walls that have grown between people in our discipline.
This project was inspired by the This I Believe series that began on NPR as a way for people to share their personal philosophies about life. We believe that a resource like this will be valuable to our community in a variety of ways. First, it will give students a place to turn when they need inspiration, motivation, and encouragement. Second, it will remind those of us who are professional mathematicians to remember the times when we struggled and have compassion for our students who might be facing similar obstacles. In addition, it will help to dispel myths about who can and who cannot succeed in our field.
We again thank you in advance, and we look forward to your story and/or other contribution!-- Allison Henrich, Emille Lawrence, Matthew Pons, and David Taylor
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