It's Ok To Be Bad At Math: Great Inventors And Scientists Who Struggled With Math

Posted: December 19, 2017By: James
Content it s ok to be bad at math great inventors and scientists who struggled with math

“Why am I so bad at math?”

Lots of students ask themselves this question. And the answers to this question vary widely. “I have a bad math teacher,” is pretty common, although probably not the right answer in most instances. Sure, there are bad math teachers, but more often than not, being bad at math is the result of gaps in your learning which were never filled and/or an attitude that you just can’t “get it.” Then there is the common myth that girls just aren’t destined for math greatness? With these attitudes, the motivation to try is lost, and lots of students just give up. There is also the myth that poor math skills are why common core math is bad. Kids are not learning what they need to. Hogwash.

Students also vary widely in their natural intellectual strengths and weaknesses. All of us know those who are great writers, who love literature, who are amazingly mechanical, and, yes, who are just naturally great at math. These strengths are offset by weaknesses in other subject areas.

Is There Hope for Bad Math Students?

Of course, there is. Consider a couple of these famous scientists/inventors who were no good at math.

  • Michael Faraday deserves our thanks for the electric motor and generator and began the research that led to refrigeration. But because he was poor and lacked formal education, his math skills were bad. In fact, he laid out many scientific theories and drawings of complex concepts, which he could not prove because he couldn’t do the required math.
  • Thomas Edison was also challenged by math, yet we have the light bulb and many other conveniences because of him. He was once known to say that he could always hire a mathematician if he needed one.
  • Paleontologist Jack Horner discovered the first dinosaur eggs in the Western hemisphere and has since “schooled” other scientists on the lives and habits of these creatures. He was also the scientific consultant on the movie set of Jurassic Park.
  • Charles Darwin, as an adult, hired a teacher to tutor him in basic algebra but gave up after a few lessons.
  • E.O. Wilson, famous biologist, freely admits and even jokes about his poor math skills; yet they did not hamper his ability to observe bacteria or to become the primary authority on ants.

The point is this: Even careers in science are open to people who are math challenged.

The other point is this: While math is certainly helpful for many careers, there are just as many for those who don’t care for science either.

Great Paying Careers for People Bad at Math

Lest you think that only STEM careers pay well in this relatively new century, think again. Here are just a few jobs in which required math skills are minimal:

  • Teachers at the post-secondary levels – all fields
  • Many medical fields – dental hygienists, physical therapists, oncology technicians, etc.
  • Legal fields – attorneys, judges, even para-legal salaries have spiked in recent years
  • Real estate and property management
  • C-level corporate executives and managers
  • Business careers – management, marketing, etc.
  • Pilots
  • Occupational therapists
  • Many more

If you are genuinely math-challenged and have no plans to enter a related career, get on career websites and explore the multitude of careers for people bad at math. You’ll find plenty that will pique your interest.

In the Meantime…

You do have to get through school, and to do that you will have to pass some core math courses – they are common to all colleges and universities. And to do that, you may need some extra help with assignments and tests. What many students do not realize is that, while they can order up urgent essay help from a professional online writing service, they can also get math homework help from that same service.

Using a writing service for math help can indeed be a life-saver to get you through those pesky requirements.

On the Other Hand…

Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I so bad at math?” why not make a decision to fill your math skill gaps, whether you are in high school, college, or an adult already in a career? You can begin by losing the myths and the excuses, such as why common core math is bad or why your brain is just not “wired” correctly and is thus a delimiter of your abilities. There are many ways to boost your skills and concepts:

  • Begin by testing yourself, beginning with the basics and working up until you reach a hurdle. There are free online math tests that will provide you with a full rundown of your gaps. This is where you must begin, because math is cumulative – each new skill or concept builds on what was learned before. You have to begin where you first run into difficulty.
  • You can learn on your own, thanks to Internet-based activities. There are great free online schooling sites (e.g., Khan Academy) where you can sign up for courses; there are sites that provide cool games that teach math concepts and skills. Find the right environment for your online learning and get going.
  • Don’t listen to naysayers. They may come in all forms – friends, family members, and co-workers who tell you that you don’t need to do this, that you are setting yourself up for failure. There are famous comics who have routines about people who cannot do math or the “new” math of common core. Ignore all of this, and do it for yourself. There is a lot to be said for the confidence you will gain in other areas of your life, if you take on such a challenge and meet it.
  • Find good friends who are great in math, and ask for their help when you hit snags in your learning. You may need different types of explanations before one “hits home.”
  • Try to relax. Math anxiety is a real thing, but it can be conquered. First understand that research shows that there is no such thing as some people just being “born” to be good at math. Understand that math is not a “gender” thing – research also proves this. Understand that math is progressive and that if you begin where you first began to struggle, work carefully and steadily, you will “get it.”

The Real World

You don’t have to love math. You don’t even have to like it. There is plenty you can do without high level math skills. But, the real world does require some basic math concept mastery, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be fully proficient. It allows you to be independent in many ways – do your own taxes, calculate the amount of paint or wallpaper you may need, figure discount percentages and tips in your head, and so forth.

So, get yourself through those basic requirements; get the help you need; and learn enough basics to have independence as an adult. You can do this.

Let’s end this post with a few math puns from

See? There is even some humor in math!