Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why learn Mathematics?

"This is all crap, I'll never do this in real life.."

And you know what - for many students this will be absolutely true, in a way. They will never use mathematics in the way we teach it. Here's a topic, learn the content from the board, open your textbook, do some questions, perhaps complete a worksheet, do an investigation, complete a test and maybe an exam.

Yet if we dig a bit deeper we do use maths constantly in real life. We problem solve daily and mathematics gives us the tools to do it. When shopping I do ratio calculations, if banking I use percentages, when estimating I use my spatial awareness, when deciding I weigh up probabilities, when reading I evaluate statistics and the list goes on. Every skill used in mathematics puts us in a unique position not to look stupid.

Girls are especially fond of saying I'm not good at maths. That's like saying boys are not good at making dresses for dolls. Boys may be good at making dresses for dolls but are not encouraged to do so. We all need to encourage girls to know that they are good at mathematics and that trying is not optional.

Boys tend to be a little different. Generally they require instant success and will stop the minute they think they know something. Their working in general is less meticulous. In their favour, they will give things a go. We need to be mindful of this and reinforce that effort breeds success and showing working is a necessary part of learning.

1 comment:

  1. A good observation. One I identify with very well. The only thing I would add is perhaps some onus should be on the teacher to illustrate how maths in the classroom can be applied to the everyday. Use examples! Students may then see and understand the long term benefits and engage more. It may also provide a more interesting lesson from the standard, read the text book, do the questions.


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