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Faculty Q&A with Math Teacher Kate Bendrick

Authored By: 
Raven Koch, History Teacher

Sitting down at our cozy table in a Japanese restaurant near the school, I knew Kate was from Connecticut, so I started there.  I asked her if she grew up in an urban corner of New England, or somewhere more rural. 

“The ‘burbs,” she responded, “It was the worst of both worlds – remote enough to not have activities and social actions, but not remote enough to have peace of nature.”

“So, you like nature?” I ask.

“Not particularly.  It’s just the only up-side I can see.  No, I’m a city girl.”

“So you like it here in New York?”

“Yes, I love New York!  I lived in Paris when I was 19.  I liked it.  It was so big.  I didn’t know what to do with it.  I’d do better there now.”  Kate pauses.  Then, “I became a city girl.  That’s what I am now.”

“Where did you go to college?”

“I went to school at UConn.  It had cows and a dairy bar, but I liked it even though it was rural.  You had the university and people to talk to.”

“What did you study?”

“Got my Master’s there in Economics.”  She laughs.  “In one year.  I got my Master’s in one year.”

“Wow!  One year!”

“Yeah.  It really didn’t feel like enough time.”

“Would you want to do more?” I asked her.

“In Economics?  No.” Kate answers without hesitation, “If I went back to school, it would be for dance or Portuguese and Spanish language… or Linguistics.”

“That seems like quite a departure from Economics.”

“It is.  I have broad interests.  I have a degree in French!”

“So, what brought you to The Beekman School?”  I ask.

“Through an educational recruitment company.  I thought it was a good fit.”

“Well, I know that the school would agree about that.  But what was it about the school that appealed to you?”

“I examined the website thoroughly.  I really appreciated the broad backgrounds of the faculty, and I found the emphasis on tutoring compelling.  Also, as an educator, the idea of teaching small classes appealed to me.”

“As I said, we’re so happy you found us, Kate.  Tell me, how do you like to spend your spare time?”

“Dance.”

“What kind of dance do you do?”

“All kinds of dance!  Many styles … they all share African roots.”

“Ok, so you certainly do have varied interests.  Do you have advice for students who, like you, are interested in things other than math, but, unlike you, really struggle with the subject?”

“Ah, the math-phobia,” Kate mused aloud.  “Often the result of a feedback loop in which you take performance as information about ability, which in Western culture is perceived as a trait. Eastern cultures have a greater tendency to perceive abilities as skills gained through practice, and therefore the performance feedback is not indicative of some unmalleable characteristic.”

“So, you’re saying that people need to stop focusing on how they think they are ‘not good at math,’ and just keep practicing until they are!”

“Exactly.  One key to taking away the power of a math phobia is shifting attention from trait analysis to practice.”

“Well, I think that’s an academic philosophy we can all support - parents and teachers alike.  Thank you for having lunch with me today.  I’m going to go home and practice my quadratic equations now.”

We are welcoming students to class this spring either via a hybrid in-person/online learning model in NYC (following our Spring Break), or via fully remote, synchronous online classes.  Learn more about our response to COVID-19 >