If you ask an average middle school or junior high school student what do they think about math, be prepared for a fierce answer. Most students hate math, but the reasons are not always expressed explicitly. The dislike for math is usually correlated with overall bad performance in exact sciences, but some of the straight A students also hate math, so the reasons why this discipline has such a bad reputation cannot be attributed only to the opinions of the students, who fail at math tests. Finding the solution to the problem has to start from understanding what is causing the situation and how we can improve students’ attitudes towards math.
“I hate what I don’t get and I don’t care for what I don’t need”
The main reason why children dislike math has its origins in the lack of understanding of the basic and advanced math concepts. The traditional way of teaching math starts from providing the theoretical background and next moving to solving mathematical problems, but for most students this is where the problem starts – they do not comprehend the transition from abstract to practical use and fail to understand the correct way to solve math problems. The badly organized math curriculum does not help and the students feel that mathematical theory is taught in a disconnected manner, where one issue does not lead to another, instead of building on previously gained knowledge. At the same time there is a huge pressure to do well at math classes, because it is one of the most important academic disciplines.
The lack of the ability to use math theory in practice, no solid background for solving math problems and a pressure to somehow manage and be good at math – all these elements combined cause what is known as “math anxiety” – the inability to solve math problems, especially in stressful situations, such as tests and examinations. On top of that, many students lack proper motivation to learn math – as long as they do not plan to become scientists or professionals, who work with numbers, they perceive math as an abstract, impractical and completely useless in everyday life academic discipline. In result the students’ goal is to remember the main math issues for only as long as they need them during classes, and then completely discard the math knowledge as pointless and unnecessary.
Working on changing the perception of math
What can be done to change the students’ attitudes towards math? Simple solutions, like increasing the number of math classes taught at schools rarely bring the expected results. It all has to start from the foundations: changing the way the math is perceived by the students. Modern math programs, such as Singapore Math, which proved to be highly successful not only in Singapore, but in almost every country that implemented this method in its education system, the focus is put on presenting math at its most practical use.
The theory is reduced to minimum with students spending most of their time solving math problems, which, surprisingly, they often enjoy very much! That is because Singapore Math does not operate on abstract concepts, difficult to grasp for anyone, who has no special talent for math, but on palpable, concrete and pictorial representations of the abstract concepts. The method is also highly successful in presenting how math gives foundation to not only sciences, but many of our everyday experiences. On top of that, Singapore Math is a technique, which aims at building a detailed map of math concepts, where one thing leads to another in a clear, logical way.
Kids hate math and they will continue to put as little effort into learning math as possible, unless we present them with a good alternative: math curriculums, which are simple to follow, well organized and very practical. If you feel inspired by what you have just read about Singapore Math and would like to give the method a try, go to one of the numerous online resources with online tutoring programs, which is adjusted to the needs of students, who are taught math according to the Singapore Math method, but it can be also used to introduce new students to Singapore Math concepts in a fun, stress-free way.
This article was offered by Irina Kovalyova, who is a professional in Internet Marketing, SMM and blogging. Irina is currently working on iSingaporeMath project.