My favorite type of student is the one who believes that they do poorly in math classes because their parents did. I often hear, "It runs in my family. We just aren't good at math." Well, that simply isn't true and I know I am not alone in saying it.
I believe that anyone can be good at math. This belief that we are poor in subjects because our parents were is simply misguided. It is also my favorite misconception to disprove.
This semester alone I had at least 5 students in each class announce that they were bad at math and there was nothing to be done. Now, many of them are getting high marks and find that they enjoy the challenge of learning something new. That is not to say that they are all passing with flying colors, but in just 8 weeks I already see a shift in attitude and confidence of these students.
For students to believe they are bad at something they had to have spent years being told they were or developing the belief that they were (wherever it came from). A lot of times it is just their excuse for not taking the time to do the work at all. This is were collaborative learning does it's finest work.
Collaborative learning forces the students to invest in the material and have a voice. If they don't, they have not only failed themselves, but their peers as well, which provides the strongest motivation to stop making excuses and TRY.