While teaching math, one can commonly hear a student exclaim, "I'm not a math person".
I dislike this saying, because I think we all have some "math" inside of us. Maybe I'm an optimist and hopeful for all of my students, but I believe that everyone can do it, they just need to have the attitude and the opportunities to experiment and figure it out with support from someone who knows the answer to guide them along the way.
Another thing wrong with this saying, is the assumptions that go along with it. To most students who say this, they are thinking about the numbers, equations, and representations that they just don't understand. But math isn't just about numeric skills. There's other aspects that contribute to a student's mathematical mind, numbers are only a tiny part of math. For example, seeing patterns, strategy games, and word problems all contribute to a mathematical mind!
This saying also assumes that math is either a skill that comes easily, one that comes with hard work, or one that doesn't come at all! Most students tend to rule out the middle option though ("one that comes with hard work"). They'd rather believe that they don't have the skill than have to work hard for it. Of course, this is a generalization and does not account for all students who struggle with math. Part of this belief is brought about by socialization through a student's family, but also through education and how in elementary years it is mainly about numbers and developing those basic skills in order to get to the abstract concepts in the later elementary years, high school and university.
As teacher's we have to realize that some student's are going to have this opinion about their math skills and abilities. We have to be ready to observe and know how to pin point students that believe this about themselves and help them to overcome this opinion. Math is more than numbers, and everyone has the possibility to be a "math person" and we as math teacher's have the opportunity, maybe even the privilege, to show students the path towards success!
Happy math teaching!