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Defeating Negative Self-Talk

One of the biggest problems with the students I teach is their math anxiety level.  Math anxiety is the felling of tension and anxiety that interferes with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of math problems during tests. In other words - mathphobia!  This is a learned condition, not something they are born with and is in no way related to how smart a student is.  In my Math Study Skills class, we have been looking at causes for anxiety which include bad experiences, teacher and/peer embarrassment and humiliation, or being shamed by family members. We've been looking at ways to reduce math anxiety such as short term relaxation as well as long term techniques and managing negative self-talk.

For many of my students, a song is the best way of remembering.  I found an old nonsense song by Roger Miller entitled, You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd.  First we read over the words. Next we watched a video on You Tube and then we actually sang the song.  I replaced the words "But Ya can be happy if you've a mind to" with "But ya can be positive if you put your mind to it."


You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd

By Roger Miller
 
 
 
Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
  Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
*But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.

 
 Ya can’t take a shower in a parakeet cage,
 Ya can’t take a shower in a parakeet cage,
 Ya can’t take a shower in a parakeet cage,
 *But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 
All ya gotta do is put your mind to it,
Knuckle down, buckle down,
Do it, do it, do it!

Well, ya can’t go swimmin’ in a baseball pool,
Well, ya can’t go swimmin’ in a baseball pool,
Well, ya can’t go swimmin’ in a baseball pool,
 *But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 
Ya can’t change film with a kid on your back,
Ya can’t change film with a kid on your back,
Ya can’t change film with a kid on your back,
 *But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 

Ya can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,
Ya can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,
Ya can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,
*But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 
All ya gotta do is put your mind to it,
Knuckle down, buckle down,
Do it, do it, do it!

Well, ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
 *But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 

Ya can’t go fishin’ in a watermelon patch,
Ya can’t go fishin’ in a watermelon patch,
Ya can’t go fishin’ in a watermelon patch,
*But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.

 Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
 Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
  Ya can’t roller skate in a buffalo herd,
  *But ya can be positive if ya put your mind to it.
 
So how did the lesson go?  Let's just say that my college students were having so much fun singing the song that the secretary had to come and shut our classroom door.  And the response from the students the next day, "I can't get that song out of mind!"  Maybe negative self-talk has finally met its match!
 

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