Thursday, November 18, 2010

The problem with Math...

I completely agree that most parents expect the schools to teach their kids everything. In fact, I know a lot of parents who don't go through the homework with their children, expecting their children, who are as young as 6 or 7-years-old to be independent when it comes to school work. Children need to be nurtured and it needs to be of a combined effort of both parents and teachers. As your child see that you value their education, they too will come to place their education of a higher importance.

In the case of Math, I see a couple problems in the U.S. education system. First, our schools do not have enough qualified teachers to teach Math. Since Math teachers do not get paid any more than other subject teachers, the ones who are qualified to teach Math often head into other Math-related industries to seek a higher paycheck. I believe that college students in the elementary and secondary education majors need to have specific emphasis in the areas and subjects they teach. Just as doctors, lawyers, and engineers have specific specialities, the same should go for teachers.

Second, we are not engaging our students in a systematic approach of teaching Math. We are also not using the best methods and technologies that are available to teach them Math. There are countries out there who are constantly seeking the best approach to teaching Math. I believe this is due to the lack of Math expertise our teachers hold.

Third, many parents and children alike are "afraid" of Math. Ask any adult out there, and you will get the majority telling you they were bad at Math or hated Math when they were in school. Since there are very little tools out there to assist parents to teach their children Math, this subject is often times shoved aside as a "difficult" subject everyone just has to go through to pass it not excel in it.

We need to change the way we teach Math in the United States. Already, we are seeing the downside of not teaching Math properly in our schools and homes. We have a shortage of Engineers, Scientists, technology-related personnel, and so on. Any thoughts on what we should do?


  1. I think there are two pieces. One is the teacher. I had wonderful teachers at my schools, and they really did ensure that we understood what was going on. Many of them made math into games, where there was some healthy competition on things like learning the times-tables. Too many times now, I see teachers who are more focused on ensuring that nobody gets their feelings hurt, and ensuring that there's no competition. Maybe some kids work better with that, but for me, without the competition, it can just be drudgery.

    The other piece is the parents. If the parents don't know math, it's going to be harder for the kids to learn math. I was very blessed to have a father that is amazing at math, and a mother who is good at seeing the places where math can be used in every day life. When I finished my math homework, when I was young, I would go over it with my father, and if I didn't understand something, I could go to him and get an explanation. He also encouraged me to explain to him what I had done on some problems. On the other side, sometimes when out with my mother, she would give me math problems that related to what we were doing. If we were at the store, she would look at two different boxes of an item, and ask me which was a better deal. (this was before they had the "price per unit" on the price tag, but you could ignore that and still do this). Even now, sometimes I will try to calculate the price-per-unit myself, and then check myself against the price tag.

    Those are just some simple things. It's not going to fix the world, but maybe we can help fix things for our own children for now, and encourage others to do the same?

  2. Thanks Erin!!! I love your insights!!! You are truly lucky to have had such a great support system growing up. Thanks for sharing...


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