It is common to hear many students in Nigeria and other countries say learning maths never works for them, and they can never understand the subject. At least many of us have said at different points of our educational lives.
Maths stands out among other school subjects because it has two distinct parts: the theory and applied aspects. For science students, mathematics is regarded as an authority because of the functions it has in every subject. In chemistry, you need maths knowledge to calculate atomic and molecular mass. In biology, you need knowledge of maths to calculate the number of chromosomes in living organisms. Maths is quite prevalent in physics and technical drawing.
The issue is your maths proficiency. There are different categories for students when it comes to maths. Here are the categories:
- You’re exceptionally talented, and maths has never been your problem. Even better, you’ve always been a class topper and learning maths and writing maths exams are exciting experiences that you always look forward to.
- Whenever any maths discussion comes up, you start to worry and fidget. Maths isn’t your strongest point, and it looks like you’re lagging. You’ve struggled with basic maths, and the advanced levels look impossible for you to learn.
From the categories, it may seem that while learning maths, you can either have the innate ability to learn it or not.
But should that discourage you from conquering your maths problems?
It would help if you didn’t have a phobia for maths – it isn’t a monster that goes around devouring people. If the thought of the future keeps popping up in your mind, you’ll feel fearful and uncertain because admittedly, mathematics can play a massive part in shaping your future and the decisions you make. When you have these thoughts, it looks like they are triggered by self-doubt or low teaching quality that will make you understand the subject.
It is essential that you keep a positive approach to things and tackling the subject from an entirely different strategy might be the turning point you need.
Experimental Approaches Aid Brain Development
Experts have investigated why students find it hard to learn mathematics. They discovered that many students are of the view that their teachers always demand answers without any proper learning process. Therefore, they think that mathematics has unclear objectives – which is far from the truth.
This is a challenge for every maths teacher and parent. If we want our students/children to get the best quality maths education, we need to alter our approaches.
Saying some people have a mathematical brain is, in reality, a myth. We can link maths proficiency with undergoing the best methods of teaching maths. When students tackle maths problems like trigonometry, Boolean’s algebra, set, linear and quadratic equation, etc. with approaches they think suits them best, it will bring out their true self.
Neuroscience has established a strong link between what students think of themselves and their academic achievements. If a student thinks highly of herself, she is poised to do exploits. If her confidence levels are low, there is an excellent chance that she’ll struggle with maths.
Furthermore, science has proven that the brain increases in size and capacity. At the same time, it decreases both ways due to inactivity. In this case, experimental approaches increase the size and capacity of the brain because of the stress it undergoes. When stuck on a maths problem, a student can retrace her steps to see where she went wrong or try other methods of solving the equation. Upon the success of the technique, it’ll take the student considerably lesser time to solve the same equation next time.
It doesn’t mean that the mathematical mistakes you make will make you proficient in maths. However, it only proves that some strategies are more efficient than the others, and it can conquer any mental blockages you have for mathematics.
The good thing is, experimental approaches work for every maths topic, including polynomial, algebra, calculus, linear and quadratic equations, etc. We’re mostly used to perfection, but in maths, you’ll learn that your mistakes aren’t the end of the world. They can spur you to get great results.
A Positive State of Mind is Essential for Learning Maths
Lately, maths teachers have started noticing how a student’s self-esteem can be a significant factor in how students progress in maths. A student who attempts maths test and exams with a positive mindset is more likely to achieve better results.
With more teachers realising this, the search for more personalised and practical strategies have begun. The funny thing is, it is easier for students to learn maths than any other subjects because of its directness.
Unfortunately, many teachers in Nigeria think that many students cannot understand mathematics or reach a high level of knowledge. It worsens when their students hold this belief too because it affects their state of mind and they become unsure of themselves.
Experienced maths educators opine that students face several difficulties when they encounter questions that require yes/no answers. In this case, there are only two answers, and it can be restrictive for these students. These educators have proffered a solution, and it includes starting a conversation around different maths concepts. Therefore, offering other ideas and different strategies to find a solution works.
Therefore, it makes little sense rooted to a stop and trying to work out some maths quizzes or exercises like the traditional methods entail and expect a tick or cross sign signifying whether a student passes or fails. Instead, students can tackle maths problems in other ways, such as engaging in games or other fun methods.
Even better, maths teachers need to leave students alone to find solutions to maths problems themselves. When a student understands that she needs to come up with answers herself, she’ll come up with her creative best. It means that such a student can get creative and work on her maths-solving skills. Besides, the student can understand the best strategy to learn maths, and it shall make such a student find life maths application valuable.
Besides, engaging in fun games that involve maths can be valuable for students. Nigerian Parents need to take note of this. Apart from parents, maths tutors in Nigeria need to pay attention to it too because it can be a strategy for providing practical maths tuition to students. Furthermore, an online maths tutor can apply the strategy even if the online tutor is not physically present.
These fun games are methods of doing a recap of everything that has been taught in a classroom. For students who find their teacher’s teaching methods complicated, these games can simplify their problems.
There are different maths websites in Nigeria's digital space for students to learn maths. In the same vein, mobile apps exist to help struggling students get over their maths problems and become gurus in maths. Some of these websites and apps have maths games that students can play.
Understanding Maths Without Undue Duress
Some problems are associated with being under duress. There’s this inexplicable amount of pressure we face. Not that feeling pressured is necessarily a bad thing because there is this urge to do better and the competitive feeling we get under pressure.
However, different studies have shown that feeling pressured continually by expectations, such as completing a maths exercise within a time frame can lead to mental blocks for students. It is because the brain cannot function fully under these ridiculous constraints.
Unfortunately, maths itself is a natural pressure for students and teachers are fond of piling up more pressure on these students. It’s even worse when a student is having self-doubts and feeling anxious. The added pressure will only make the student focus on the negatives and forget about anything else going on.
Do Maths Tutors Feel the Same Pressure?
It is typical of students to feel pressure when learning maths. But do maths tutors think the same way? Funnily enough, tutors believe some pressure when learning maths, especially topics they aren’t entirely comfortable with. It may be due to the type of lessons they underwent during their childhood.
While learning maths, effective communication, pictorial examples, and proffering different solutions to maths problems are essential to help a student learn faster. It is why we keep hammering on the fact that students need to understand other methods for tackling a maths problem because it’ll enhance their creativity.
For tutors who endured challenging maths learning while growing up, it will be difficult for them to provide the highest quality of maths lessons for students. Instead, they’ll opt for the old method they were used to. Because of this, it becomes a recurring cycle, and each generation is subjected to this archaic training. If nothing changes, more Nigerian students who would later become tutors will continue to feel pressure while learning mathematics.
Therefore, to put an end to this problem, Superprof NG recommends that Nigerian maths tutors adopt a more contemporary style of teaching maths. This style won't place undue pressure on students, and they provide different methods of answering answers for these students. Even more, these students should not be subjected to ridiculous time constraints and learning advanced maths will become a piece of cake for students.