Math can be a scary thing. Our society today seems to box it in with geniuses, geeks, and people who don’t leave the safety of their homes or offices. In fact, it’s often strange that someone would like math. Personally, I really disliked math. The repetition of something I didn’t like was killer; I didn’t understand why we were doing it, or why we had to do the same thing over an over again. It wasn’t until I got to higher levels of math- Calculus 1-3 or stats, that I understood the application and how we could actually use all the “completing the square” nonsense or why lines were so important.
Math can tell us a lot about a situation- if we were to quantify data, like how many cupcakes are consumed in a given time, we can plot a line of time vs. cupcakes eaten and get a slope or a trendline- an equation of a line that can help us predict how many more cupcakes needed in a given length of time.
In other ways, math helps us indirectly, like when we’re baking those cupcakes. Doubling, halving recipes all involve fractions (if you find a recipe written with decimal points, please send it to me).
Math is also important to many different industries- engineering, business, education especially. Although it’s not in the same format as the math learned in middle school or high school, it’s still a higher level of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing than it seems.
So why is learning math such a gigantic task, and how do we fix the begrudging attitudes towards what is really a fundamental skill?
Well, let’s learn it in the context of interesting applications. Math textbooks like to do this all the time: “If a wombat is walking though the forest at 1.2 meters per second, how far does he wander?” or even, “George buys 600 sodas for 6 cents each and only spends 34$. How much was the original price of the soda?”
But no one application or method is going to work for everyone- once more it takes a bit of creativity and work to learn something new, something we’ve covered previously. So what can we do?
- Patience- try different things and keep trying until something sticks
- Be kind to yourself- math is a different way of thinking in general, don’t get too frustrated if you’re stuck or cant seem to understand something. Your brain needs time to work with the information
- Make it into a game- use different colors and figure out the pattern, and turn learning math into an RPG styled leveling system.
- Break everything up into smaller bites. Rewrite your notes or examples or create a small video talking yourself through it. Use props or playdough or something you can mold or create
- Ask others for their methods!
These are just a few things you can do to make math easier- it’s not that math is some insurmountable task, it’s just that it’s a far different way of operating than writing an essay or absorbing, processing, and repeating information. It takes time, but with enough patience it can be done!