You must have heard someone around you saying that math isn't "their thing." And if you're a teacher, you probably hear it every day.
Out of all the subjects within the formal education framework, math stands out for its theoretical relevance and practical applications.
We wouldn't be wrong in saying math lays the foundations for almost every science subject, covering topics like probability, geometry, algebra, and mathematical reasoning.
When it comes to gauging the command of math on an individual level, most people find themselves fitting into two categories.
Either, they're blessed with a knack for solving math problems and find the subject exciting. Or, they are terrified at the very thought of applying a mathematical formula.
Those who fall into the former category have no problems understanding abstract concepts and staying well ahead of the class.
In contrast, the latter seem to fear math and find themselves being left behind from the class. Math is something they struggle with and do not have confidence in their abilities.
But, even if you find yourself on the second list, there's no reason that you cannot overcome your struggles with math. One shouldn't fear numbers as they're nothing more than a few symbols on paper.
What you must overcome is your fear of failure when you're confronted with math problems, which likely stem from low self-esteem and a lack of adequate learning strategies.
However, with a positive mindset and a change of perspective, you can get on the path to conquering your fear of math and excelling at it.
Math Aids Brain Development
Stanford math professor, Jo Boaler, has identified a few reasons why children seem to struggle with the subject.
She recalls a personal anecdote where he colleague's son complained that math always "asks for answers without teaching us anything."
This anecdote is a glimpse into why many primary school children might find math quite complicated than other subjects.
This anecdote exposes the counter-intuitive nature of modern math-teaching methods since math demands an objective answer backed by rigorous work.
Hence, if you want to dispel the notion of math being dry, abstract, and hard to get, you will need to change the approach.
Keep in mind that there is no mathematical brain; it all depends on the teaching method employed for each person.
Science has shown that the human brain can grow and shrink in response to its stimulus and how it is used.
When learning math, the trial and error calculation methods always keep your brain in action and increase your concentration levels while focusing on one problem.
The high brain activity causes neuron growth, meaning the next time you work on a similar problem, you can arrive at an answer much faster.
Although it is near impossible not to make a single mathematical misstep, specific approaches can help you overcome any psychological, mathematical blockages you might have accrued over the years.
The trial and error approach works for pretty much every mathematical discipline – geometry, algebra, calculus, differential equations, or even something as basic as multiplication and division.
The Boaler Method of Learning Math
Professor Boaler's study on math students showed that the brains of those who struggle with the subject behaved differently than those who excel at it.
She noticed these results and observed that different parts of the students' brains lit up when solving math problems.
Boaler's teaching methods emphasize visual representation of math and track progress by regularly focusing on the strengths and weaknesses of each student.
A study of these methods showed that any student could improve at the subject given that the correct teaching methods are employed. These methods include interactive math lessons for the students.
In her studies, she found that only 2-3% of students showed a severe hindrance in learning math, while the rest of the candidates could improve on it, given that the correct teaching method has been used.
Furthermore, those who study math using conventional methods are genuinely surprised at the nature of interactive techniques, as they might seem quite counter-intuitive to how they're used to solving math problems.
Visualization is rarely a technique used while learning math, especially while dealing with numbers. This is where interactive apps and tools for young students have completely changed the game!
Math Learning Calls For A Positive Outlook
An increasingly large number of teachers have realized a correlation between students' self-esteem and their progress in math.
Approaching the subject with a conciliatory style accompanied by positive reinforcement can improve the learning process.
More and more teachers are looking to incorporate a progressive approach to their classes and paving the way for more interactive math lessons.
According to Boaler, yes and no questions can hinder a positive mindset while learning math, as children are faced with the pressure to give the correct answers without leaving any room for constructive learning.
She suggests further usage of visual alternatives, where tutors can work with the students to start a dialogue about math concepts and adopt alternative methods of arriving at the same solution.
Instead of sitting through endless worksheets, quizzes, and dreary problems – which can only be met with a tick or a cross – she encourages teachers to use more engaging methods and opt for more interactive math lessons.
She also suggests parents, school teachers, and online math tutors allow students to arrive at their own solutions through interactive games and harness their creativity and problem-solving skills.
Taking Away The Pressure Of Math
Due to the high pressure, math brings out our competitive side. On the other hand, it can also build up stress.
The time constraint coupled with the pressure to arrive at a solution can lead to mental blocks, keeping the brain from working efficiently.
Pressure is a routine occurrence in every student's life – be it math or science lessons – and can lead to psychological blocks.
If the problem persists for too long, the effects are further amplified, especially in children who might be clinically diagnosed with anxiety or low self-esteem.
Usually, teachers call students to answer questions in front of the class. This method can negatively affect shy students and reinforce the idea that calculation speed matters.
But this method couldn't be further from the truth, as even Ph.D. students take their time when processing numbers.
Furthermore, the speed with which a person calculates numbers has no bearing on their mathematical skills. Math geniuses rely on particular techniques rather than speed to ensure accuracy.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Math
PISA is often considered as a standard for gauging individual performance in many subjects around the academic world.
It is of particular importance to tutors within the industry, including math tutors, to see how their country performs globally.
Studies carried out by PISA show that students who live in countries where rote-learning and memorization are the norm perform the worst overall.
In contrast, countries tend to perform better mathematically when they perceive learning math as an amalgamation of different processes.
Therefore, it is essential to do away with the old methods if you wish to excel at math. Teachers should discourage repetitive learning and make way for more productive ways of approaching problems.
If you want an instructor who teaches using modern techniques, find qualified math tutors here.
Can Math Learning Be Stressful for Tutors?
Even math teachers might face feelings of anxiety when tasked to teach specific topics. This can be due to an ill-equipped knowledge of the subject, or the methods they are familiar with are now obsolete.
Of the teachers affected by this self-doubt, elementary teachers are the worst off.
Employing visualization and brainstorming solutions is vital when teaching children any subject, particularly math, due to its highly abstract nature.
Tutors must engage with students to decide on the best individual learning strategy for each person to aid in their learning and show children that learning math can be fun and enjoyable.
Additionally, the method used to teach math must change if every child is to get an equal opportunity at excelling at the subject.
The one size fits all approach is detrimental to most students and proves to be an impediment when learning mathematics in schools.
Therefore, a private tutoring arrangement with interactive math lessons can be far more helpful than a classroom setting of 30 or more pupils.
Private tutoring sessions enable teachers to provide individual attention to their students and carve out a personalized teaching formula for them.
One-to-one tutoring can be more valuable, delivering more returns in less time and allowing the tutor to focus more on the student than the curriculum.
It's not just helpful for children but also for adults learning math to get a foothold in the subject and hone their mathematical skills.
It's essential to have the right math tutor who can work according to the student's needs and understand their strengths and weaknesses. To find qualified and experienced maths tutors in your area who fit your learning needs, sign up with Superprof and start your interactive math lessons right away!
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