by Lauren Tortolani ’24
Published Nov. 23rd, 2020
Every spring, fifth grade students in the district find out their first math course placement. With this early stress on the subject, math has taken quite a grip on Montgomery students. The district’s plethora of math classes beginning at early grade levels causes the community to hold math at a high standard, and has also created a divide among students’ learning experiences.
For many students, Montgomery’s math-based community causes trouble with their self worth. There have been countless instances in our schools where one’s worth has been measured by how well they do in math.
Giuliana Girgenti (‘24) suggests, “Math is that subject that people are quick to judge you on. A simple question such as, ‘What score did you get on the math quiz?’ can determine how people view you, which is very stressful. Due to the great pressure on this certain subject, I find myself questioning if I am intelligent at all.”
This negative experience has been universal for many other students. Hannah Lee (‘24) describes how her intelligence has been measured solely off of math. “The harder math classes you’re in, the more ‘smart’ you seem,” she says. “When a good student is talked about, math is usually the first subject that’s mentioned.”
Although many students are negatively impacted by MTSD’s math-based community, there are some that benefit from the rigor and competition of the curriculum.
Arnav Talupur (‘23) says, “Math is an exhilarating subject for me.” For Arnav, his abilities in math inspire him to try his best in other subjects too. “I try in the [math] class for grade reasons, but this causes me to strive to do better in other subjects just for them to match my math grade.”
Stephanie Tortolani (‘21) also has had a positive experience with mathematics. “Starting accelerated mathematics at a young age gave me a deeper understanding and liking for math. This caused me to want to study it in college.”
The high school experience is what builds eagerness for further studies and professional development in a student’s future, and this is no different for Montgomery students. With both positive and negative experiences with math in Montgomery, students must remember that their worth is not decided by whether or not they excel in a certain subject, but only by their views of themselves.