Monday, February 20, 2012

Create inspiration to learn math.

One thing the current math education policies do not address is relieving math anxiety. Many educators and policy makers talk about it, but do they really have a solid plan for relieving it.  The common discussion is all about how math is taught, but what about the kind of math that is taught.  Some educators are already implementing styles of teaching that relates to what students are interested in. This is a step in the right direction, and this does increase an interest in math education.  Many educators and even individuals have taken to the internet to provide lessons, practice, discussion boards on math education and homework. When you look at all of these education sites they all mostly just reflect the same things we teach in schools.
Does this inspire students to learn mathematics? Does this relieve math anxiety? One way to answer these questions is to look at the students that are actively participating in these. Are they doing better on tests? Maybe…  We might be improving scores in the small groups that are actively participating in these online programs, but once again we have the question, are we relieving math anxiety?  Maybe to a small degree..
A simple way to relieve math anxiety is to introduce students to simple math “tricks”, or other ways to simplify or shorten the math calculations that most people only know one way to do.  I have already presented a couple of these methods. Such as Long multiplication in Reverse also called left to right multiplication, or multiplication without carrying. The “left-to-right” method is a good trick which helps with mental math. Students can learn to answer more difficult multiplication problems in their head with relative ease.
This will make them more confident in their math skills. It will also change the way their peers look at them. They will feel smarter and it will increase their desire to be smarter by learning more about math.  The “left-to-right” method is not the only “trick” to make multiplication easy. There is also Russian Multiplication also known as binary multiplication. This method is great because you don’t have to have the multiplication table memorized to use it. You just simply have to double numbers and cut numbers in half and then add.
All of these simple methods make math easier to students, relieving their initial anxiety. With the many ways that we can use to make math easier, we can teach a new “trick” every day.  The whole point is to increase desire for learning and relieve math anxiety.  These are the two main obstacles in helping children not only have better understanding of math, but also to do better on tests.