Too often, rather than revealing our true abilities and potential, the educational process that most of us experience convinces us that we have innate weaknesses that we can’t do anything about. Rather than leaving school feeling empowered, motivated, intelligent, and capable, many (most?) students leave school feeling degraded, demoralized, and disempowered.
One of the most common manifestations I see of this phenomenon is the belief that, by virtue of the universal lottery, some people are “good at math” and others aren’t, often held by those who think they aren’t.
In all my years of tutoring math and related subjects, I have yet to come across a student who is “bad” at it. In fact, based on my personal experience as an educator, I believe that math is an innate human ability, just like language or walking, and comes to us just as naturally.
What distinguishes individuals is not their mathematical ability, but the variety of cognitive processing styles they employ, as well as the variety of areas of interest they display. An effective educational process is not one that sorts students based on ability, but one that adapts itself based on style and is motivated by interest.
Learning has nothing to do with evaluating and everything to do with instilling. The story that you are bad at math is just that, a story. When I tutor a student, I am evaluating my effectiveness as a teacher, not their effectiveness as a learner, and I measure this not by the quantity of knowledge the student gains, but by the quality of the beliefs they develop.