I can’t seem to get my head around why students hate math. I’ve always loved math and looked forward to being on the math team… (By the way I know that I am a bit of geek and I’m fine with that). The only way that I can seem to get my geeky brain around the concept of people hating something is to relate it to something I am more familiar with…so here it goes….
At the beginning of the school year, I feel like coming to my math room is akin to being forced to go to the dreaded dentist. You know, the one where they are going to drill your teeth because you haven’t flossed like you promised them you would the last time that you were in the dentist chair. You know the chair… the big padded one where they might as well be strapping you in while the dentist is interrogating you with the bright light in your face, all the while holding the large giant metal hook instrument. Now before I go on I would like to make one thing clear… I am not standing at the front of my class holding a sharp instrument while teaching, but I am sure that those of my students who have never had success before in math may see my math textbook and protractor in the same way.
I get it a bit because, like keeping up on flossing, you have to keep up on your math work to understand the next concept. There is no quick fix the day or two before your dental visit that can make up for your lack of effort before going to the dentist and the same goes for a math test. That is one of the problems that we are now facing in today’s society. The Quick fix…Most of our students can get instantaneous answers through their smart phones which come equipped, not only with calculators, but any conceivable app and gadget that they can think of.
Just as we have to teach ourselves not to fear the dentist, we have to teach our students not to fear being wrong in math class. The best way that we learn is through trial and error. If you don’t brush well…. you will get a cavity, which leads to pains when the dentist drills your teeth. The same goes for math problems. We need students to go through the process of how to solve problems so that they can continue to solve problems later on in life. It’s not about having the right answer but on how they got the answer. Anyone can look up a problem on the internet, but determining how to solve it and applying that knowledge is the key. What they don’t realise is that math requires them to use their brains to solve problems. Not just what 1 + 1 is but actual problems about how should I attempt to answer something...or what information is needed and how do I go about to get the information.
It is no use if you just give in and accept that there will be pain and on that note I have to go floss and brush my teeth now….(Appointment is at 3:45 tomorrow so wish me luck).