Mathematics is omnipresent in our daily lives, influencing the construction of buildings, streets, and parks, as well as the operation of the vehicles we use and the choices we make at the grocery store or in restaurants. Despite its pervasive role, many students find maths to be a daunting subject. The question arises: Why does maths evoke fear in so many?
Research suggests that the proficiency in mathematics might not be an inherent human capability; instead, it is proposed that it evolved into a human necessity more rapidly than the population could naturally acquire this skill through the process of evolution. If maths is not inherently "natural," why do we emphasise its teaching? In today's dynamic world, mathematical skills open doors to numerous well-paying job opportunities. Professions like law, medicine, engineering, and finance demand a robust foundation in maths, assessed through college grades and admission exams.
Nonetheless, there are fulfilling professions that don't require mathematical aptitude. Cognitive skills like creativity, verbal articulation, and visuospatial reasoning are valued in a variety of fields, including the humanities and arts.
So, why bother learning maths?
Maths, much like science, is not solely about arriving at correct answers; it's about the process. It teaches students that tasks are governed by a set of rules and that understanding a system's structure is crucial for effecting change. Maths reveals that intricate details matter in determining outcomes, allowing individuals to design objects, predict the future in terms of risks and benefits, or even appreciate the flaws in a system.
Teaching approaches can play a role in the development of maths anxiety
Mathematics, a crucial skill in the contemporary world, holds the potential to either empower or intimidate individuals. Studies conducted at the Mangels Lab of Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory and Attention at Baruch College, City University of New York, have unveiled the influence of teaching methods on students' anxiety towards maths. At LearnFire, we acknowledge the significance of creating a positive and captivating learning atmosphere to enhance confidence in mathematics. In this piece, we will delve into our distinctive approach, drawing inspiration from recent research, and discuss its advantages for students across all levels.
The Problem with Traditional Teaching:
Traditional teaching methods often contribute to maths anxiety, especially among high-achieving students. The emphasis on rote memorisation and the pressure for quick, correct answers can create an atmosphere of stress and hinder true understanding. At LearnFire, we challenge this approach by shifting the focus from performance to problem-solving and critical thinking.
A New Perspective - Teaching Math as Problem-Solving:
Our approach is comparable to revealing the map to students instead of handing them a set of directions. We promote students to navigate through different pathways in problem-solving, cultivating a profound comprehension of mathematical concepts. In this setting, teachers act as facilitators, leading students through discussions, observations, and collaborative problem-solving.
How to build maths confidence:
1. Facilitated Learning:
Teachers present a problem, and students, working individually or in groups, describe their observations. Teachers facilitate the discussion, guiding students toward critical thinking and problem-solving.
2. Group Brainstorming:
Students collaborate to brainstorm different methods to arrive at a solution. Teachers guide the class in evaluating and choosing the most effective method.
3. Reflection and Understanding:
Students articulate how the chosen method works and why it is the most effective. This reflective process enhances comprehension and reinforces a growth mindset.
Advantages of LearnFire's Approach:
Enhanced Critical Thinking:
When students actively join discussions and tackle problems, it not only improves their critical thinking skills but also guides them on a journey to explore and truly understand mathematical concepts.
Building Math Confidence:
By actively involving students in their learning process, we demonstrate that they are capable problem-solvers. This empowerment reduces reliance on teachers for solutions and builds confidence in their mathematical abilities.
Promoting a Growth Mindset:
Shifting the focus from right or wrong answers to emphasising mathematical thinking encourages a growth mindset. Students understand that their maths abilities can grow through effort and perseverance.
Improved Maths Performance:
LearnFire's approach enables students to see maths as a set of ideas to explore and understand. This perspective reduces anxiety, allowing for improved performance as students grasp the relationships between numbers.
Teaching problem-solving reflects how maths is applied in adulthood and diverse professions. Students discover the practical use of their knowledge in solving complex, real-world problems, nurturing skills vital for both careers and everyday life.
LearnFire is committed to reshaping the way students perceive and engage with maths. By adopting a problem-solving approach that encourages critical thinking, we empower students to become confident, capable problem-solvers. As we guide them through the intricate map of mathematics, our students gain not only a deeper understanding of the subject but also the skills necessary for success in a rapidly evolving world.