‘’Math is too hard. I don’t want to learn it’’, you might have heard this sentence many times from your child or students.
There is no denying that math is among the most disliked subjects for students.
Have you ever thought about what makes it hard? Is there a problem with the subject or the teaching or in the student’s mind? Let’s try to understand it using a real-life example. Consider the following example of John.
John is a school student. He has a math exam the next day. So, he tries to solve the question provided by his teacher.
John finds it hard to apply the concept as his teacher taught in the school. He tries one more time and fails.
John is frustrated with his inability to find the correct answer. Thus, he memorizes the steps instead of practicing again.
Then, during the exam, John finds it hard to remember the steps he memorized.
John fails in the math subject.
Now, John hates math.
Does this scenario ring a bell?
Many times, the fault does not lie with the subject or with you. The fault lies in the teaching. Traditional teaching methods are extremely boring and want students to automatically generate interest in the subjects.
Moreover, the traditional teaching system gives more importance to marks over the understanding of concepts. Hence, students often develop math anxiety or phobia.
Now, let’s try to understand why students find it hard to understand the subject.
Why is Math Hard for an Average Student?
Most students have love-hate relationships with math. Honestly, it is not the student’s fault. There are many reasons why students find it hard to understand math, such as:
- Poor foundation
Just like a building needs a solid foundation to stand on its own, math needs a solid foundation for understanding core concepts. Math is a cumulative subject. The foundation of the next topic is based on the previous one. Unless the students understand the previous topic, they will face difficulties with the next topics. This creates a poor foundation for learning math. Hence, such students fall behind in math.
Dyscalculia is a learning disability that confuses numbers-related concepts and formulas. As a result, it becomes difficult for them to understand the math problems. Hence, dyscalculia can be another reason why students fall behind in math subjects.
- Memorizing Instead of Understanding
In the above example of John, we saw that instead of practicing more; he memorized the problem. As a result, he could not answer the questions on paper and failed miserably. Unfortunately, this is a common scenario in school. Students get overwhelmed with mathematics and start memorizing the solution blindly instead of understanding them.
- Mindset set in stone
Some students, after getting overwhelmed the first time, develop a mindset that ‘Math is hard. It is difficult to understand and learn.’’ This creates a situation called a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their own belief stops them from trying harder.
- Boring to learn
Math is full of formulae and numbers. It has no stories to entertain, like history or English. It has no interesting facts or experiments like science. Hence, students find math dull to learn. The abstract figures and numbers are difficult to understand.
- Demands Practice
Math demands practice. Practice makes you perfect in maths. Unlike English, where students can relate to the stories and words. In math, they cannot relate to random numbers. For a full understanding of the concept, students need to practice it.
Breaking Down Mathematical Concepts in Three Steps
To make math interesting, we can break mathematical concepts into three steps.
Step 1: Visualize the Idea
Read the problem carefully. Understand it and try to visualize it.
After that, know what concepts you can use. Does it require you to apply multiplication, or does it need Pythagoras theorem, etc? Write your formula.
After getting the basic idea of the problem and knowing which concept to apply, you can move to the next step.
Step 2: Tear down the ‘big problem’ into smaller blocks the concept into blocks
Most math problems have a lengthy solution. Trying to solve it in one step can be an overwhelming process.
Instead, you should look for ways to break down the solution into smaller steps and come at a conclusion.
For example, let’s consider a math problem.
Aria has 3 apples and Carla has 5 oranges. Carla gave 2 oranges to Aria. Aria gave 1 apple to Carla. At the end, how many apples and oranges does each of them have?
In the start, Aria has 3 apples and Carla has 5 oranges.
Now, the problem says,
Carla gave two oranges to Aria.
Carla’s oranges = 5 – 2 = 3 oranges
Aria received two oranges from Carla, so Aria’s oranges = 0 + 2 = 2 oranges.
Aria initially has 3 apples, but then she gives one apple to Carla.
Aria’s Apple = 3 -1 = 2
Carla received one apple from Carla, so Carla’s apple = 0 + 1
Now, Aria has two apples.
The final count of each of their oranges and apple are:
Aria has 2 apples and 2 oranges and Carla has 3 oranges and 1 apple.
Was that easy?
Step 3: Observe Examples & Use Cases in Nature
Just like we learn from the example of those around us. We learn math by observing examples that are like the problems we are studying.
For example, take the Pythagorean theorem. I am not just a bunch of numbers and letters. It is the relationship between numbers, triangles, and angles.
Now that you know how to break down mathematical calculations into smaller steps, it’s time for you to practice.
Want to speed up your math practice? Read further to know.
Speeding Up Learning through Mental Mathematics
What is mental mathematics?
Mental Mathematics is the brain’s ability to quickly calculate the math problems in mind without using calculator paper and pen.
Unlike traditional math in school, where most students simply opt to memorize the steps. Mental mathematics helps you understand the core of the problem.
This way, you can twist it, break it and reorganize to find the answers. Apart from helping in the school exams, mental mathematics has other benefits like:
- Reduce math anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Good mental health
- Success in competition
- Increase the interview success rate
Despite all of this, most schools do not encourage mental math or even introduce it. Instead, many math classes in school start with “Gather your pen and paper and solve this question.”
Hence, as you grow up, you will need to use a calculator, fingers, or pen and paper as a medium to start the calculation because your brain was not conditioned to calculate it mentally.
Want to try calculating complex problems within seconds? Try out our free mental math techniques here.
Why do students hate math?
Most students hate math because they cannot understand the concept. Another reason includes math is prone to error, and one wrong step can give you the wrong answer. Hence, students get discouraged quickly and stop trying.
How to learn math for students?
The best way to learn math is by breaking it down into simple and short steps and practicing it. Other outstanding ways to learn math include learning mental math.
Math can be difficult to master. You will make mistakes, get discouraged, and so on.
Even though math can be challenging, it does not have to be. Mental math can transform you into a mathematical genius capable of answering complex questions in seconds.
Want to be a math genius? Find out how you can become a math genius while enjoying learning math in this course by Scott Flansburg. He is also known as the Human Calculator. He teaches mental math techniques to turn you into a human calculator.
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