Why are some people good at algebra and bad at geometry and vice versa?

  • I've met people who say they did very well in algebra but were terrible at geometry in high school and some people who say they did very well in geometry but were terrible at algebra in high school.

    I'm curious if people who do well in geometry are right-brained thinkers while people who do well in algebra are left-brained thinkers? Why is there a difference in ability, when algebra and geometry are just branches of the same subject, mathematics?

    Anecdotal evidence doesn't control for factors like having a good teacher for geometry and a bad one for algebra, so I don't think we can guess here - there are just too many possible explanations. However, see this related question: http://cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/10396/iq-and-performance-in-different-fields. PS: The left-brain/right-brain split is a myth, so we can at least rule that out as an explanation.

    @ArnonWeinberg - but its quite interesting actually. For example, My English is pretty OK, but my German and French are horrible. My English teachers were nicer yes :) But at least one of my French teachers was a lovely person too. I really think there is more going on than random environmental factors.

    I was one of those, who was bad at Algebra but amazing at Geometry. I think in my case it was due to my teacher; my Algebra teacher was a drunk crazy lady in love with Common Core while my Geo teacher has to be my best teacher I've ever had, exciting and funny but patient and focused.

  • ICanFeelIt

    ICanFeelIt Correct answer

    6 years ago

    In short, algebra and geometry are different type of cognitive abilities. Geometry is more spatial and algebra more verbal-logic.

    Kestenbaum, C., Williams, T. D., Handbook of Clinical Assessment of Children and Adolescents, NYU Press, 1988.

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