Are you with me on this one? I often wonder why it is that so many people struggle with ‘rithmetic (Math). All through my years of being a student and now being a teacher, nothing much has changed in that regard. (Well, except that I’ve accepted that I’m numerically challenged, lol)
I want to share a few experiences with you. Experiences which I hope will help you in your capacity of student, teacher or parent. The aim is that we do what whatever we can to help children nowadays to cope better with ‘rithmetic.
If I struggled with Math below age 9, I never knew. No one told me, no one chastised me for not being able to do my sums. It was later on that the reality hit me that I was not good at Maths! But why was that? Did I just get bad at it one day? I’m pretty sure I must have been bad all along but maybe my teachers just waited in anticipation that I would get as good at Math as I was in English!
Well, it never happened, and I paid dearly. Mind you, I still remember my times tables that we had to recite right after lunch every day! If you ask me any to multiply any two numbers between 1 and 12, I can tell you the answer, on the spot, without even thinking about it!
But it went downhill from there and here, now looking back at things, here are the reasons behind my failing at Maths. And if there is anything that you can do to help, do it.
If you’re a student
Tell yourself (even if your Math teacher does sell it to you) that Math is going to become useful in life (some of it). You wont know which bits will be useful to you so try to engage with all of it. I didn’t see the need for Maths when I was growing up because, as far as I was concerned, I didn’t want to do anything Maths related when I’m older. I’ve proved myself wrong. I’ve been able to to quickly calculate how much I’ll save in stores. Even for that reason, it’s good to learn your maths. Practise practise practise. Sometimes self-help helps.
If you’re a teacher
I think I was failed by people not insisting that class sizes should be smaller! Maths to me is a subject that should be done in a quiet atmosphere! If the class sizes are too big, there’s no room for individualised help and also for you to be able to process and concentrate. I remember in High school, the boys in my classes were too rowdy, and tried to make a big joke out of everything (such immature fools they were!). So just as I was about to process something in my Maths lesson, they would have one of their many outbursts that just threw my concentration! Angry is an understatement to describe how I felt, particularly since I knew that if certain people got the concept, the teacher would just move on and the rest of us just had to make our own way round it.
If you’re a parent
Encourage your children from as early as possible to have a healthy interest in Maths and Math related activities! That’s the best piece of advice I can give on the matter. Since I preferred English and reading to Math, I wrongfully put the same emphasis on things when I started to teach my own kids! Wrong wrong wrong! They will be the same way towards their studies too! So make it fun for them from early on (never forced nor punished!). As a parent I learnt the hard way and was forced to study for and sit my GCSE Maths in my late thirties! This is because when I migrated to this country, I found out that I had to sit the teacher qualifying exams here! And one of them was Maths! I couldn’t be qualified without it so I had to do it. It wasn’t easy as I did it on my own, staying up at nights (when everyone had gone to bed) to study, practise past papers etc. Thankfully I got a B grade on my first attempt! Yay me! I was then able to help my son using the same techniques I had used for myself a few years earlier. He passed too! Get your kids to practise practise practise. Another thing that I think will help is if you display a healthy attitude towards the subject. Not only a healthy attitude in front of them either. You could seek out ways that you can help them in your own time. Share some high fives with them too, when you figure out a problem together.
I hope that I have convinced you that doing well in Maths is important and also that you can do what you can in your capacity as student, teacher or parent to help. Where I was failed should also show you that these are avoidable. I still love reading and writing; ‘rithmetic not so much, but I am much better at it now than I was many years ago and I am happy that I can now offer help to those who struggle.
Now that you are through with this, you can read my post about my not so nice experiences as a teacher. I had to resign from my job in order to get my sanity back! Yes, it was that bad.
Thanks for stopping by and feel free to share your views on the subject by using the box below.