Improving Your Math Grade - 3 First Steps
Oh Math, how you put our students through a whirlwind adventure and make enemies out of kids that should be dear friends! Out of all the learning material that has been ill conceived and badly taught by teachers and schools, Math is what has been farthest removed from its natural roots. Math has been socialized, victimized, and drastically demonized. This article will offer you some initial ideas on how to change your Math realities and begin to enjoy that logical wonderful world of Math!
1. Attack your Math-Fear
Machiavelli in his famous Prince writes, "Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved."
I advance the following maxim:
"Word Problems must be loved and not feared"
Students I work with initially report having non-mathematical minds or just simply say that they love school but dislike their math classes. Part of this Math-Fear responsibility falls squarely on our schools and how they've been teaching the forbidden subject for so long. Teachers change their attitudes as they grab their thick Glencoe textbooks in the early grades and Fun briskly opens the door and leaves the room. But listen - you're not just bad at math - or at least, you'd be better at math if you stopped thinking you were. Think back to those moments where other students, teachers, media and parents were taking Fun out of math in front of your very eyes and contextualize your Math-Fear.
Say aloud, "I hate you Math-Fear" and then, "I love you Math". We are significantly worse at things we believe we are bad at, and although the initial idea may have been formed because we were actually not very good, the idea will continue to condition our skills until we stop being so negative. Realize that this is why your grasp of Math and consequently your Math grades are suffering.
2. Embrace your Math-Love
The first step - acknowledging you have a problem - is done, so what now? Take a week off from the difficulties you've been having with your Math classes or test preparation (do this in the Summer please!) and get ready to have some Math Fun. Math is an integral component of the coolest things in the world! Build a bottle rocket! Organize a paper airplane competition! Go play bowling with your buddies! Design a Circuit! I could keep on going; math is part of absolutely everything! How fast is the tempo on that song, what rhythm are you using to recite this poem, how fast are you running down a field - everything. Make this week of Math-love just fun, no need to calculate things with pencil and pad as long as you're taking the time to appreciate how these different things interact together.
3. Partner with a Math-Mate
Education is about community and positive partnerships. There are people in your life who love math, you know them, and you see them in class and marvel at how quickly they raise their hands to eagerly answer questions. Find someone who really loves math though, not someone that really loves being right. Go out and find kids or adults that really have a passion for the logic of how things work.
As the director of a boutique private tutoring company in NYC I want my Math tutors to truly love math and understand its relationship to other things. I want them equipped to transfer their understanding of and passion for math to the students that we work with. As they come to their first interviews with me though, I sometimes get an unacceptable answer to my question of how they work in student interest to their math lessons. Please be wary of Math-Mates that believe that relating Math to your life consists simply of using word problems relevant to your interests. For Example:
You love horseback riding
Bad Math-Mate hypothetical Word Problem - If you had four horses and you bought seven more horses, how many horses would you have in all?
Good Math-Mate hypothetical Word Problem - (On a weekend riding around Prospect Park) How fast were we riding if it took us 10 minutes to ride the last mile? How fast would we be going if we made it in 5? Let's try it!
Find your perfect Math-Mate! Maybe it's a parent, a family member, a friend, or a tutor. Someone that is passionate about math, patient and a great teacher.
So, these are the first three steps (you are on the road to recovery now!) and with a good Math-itude and plenty of help, I'm certain you'll be able to succeed at the intricately interesting part of our life that is Math and Logic.