Math class is a bit problematic

Mathematical Formula

A while ago I wrote about the sins of English class, which you can read here: English class is a bit problematic. However, I realized that it just wasn’t enough to bash English class, and now I’m back at it again! (I should create a series.) For this post, I’m focusing on American schools only.

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Reliance on calculators

In my state, it is mandatory for students to learn how to use a calculator in their math subjects. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, yes and no. Calculators are great, don’t get me wrong, but teaching it in such a way builds a reliance of students upon calculators.

Students end up remembering how to do it on the calculator, but not how to do it the long technical way, stifling the understanding of concepts. Furthermore, if you’re in the woods, country, or outback, what’s the chance you’ll have one of these…


…In any place other than your workplace or home?

Oh, yeah, plus China is two years ahead of our Math curriculum, and they learn everything without calculators.

Concepts are not remembered

Piggy-backing off the last point, I’d like to flesh out my point about concepts. Obviously, since we do it on the calculator, we end up not remembering the concepts very well. However, there’s another layer to it. Since they teach us both the writing method and calculator method, we end up spending more time learning.

To compress the time, we move on quickly between subjects, and thus end up forgetting concepts before they are reinforced in our brains. See the negative feedback loop?

Math class concepts also look weird from other perspectives. My mother, a college math professor, can’t understand some things we’re taught!

Little variation

Math class tends to teach problems straight out of Math tests, which means that many problems are copies. This is good for tests, but not so good for my knowledge. For example, I know how to balance a simple equation. However, I don’t know how to balance an equation where is squared or is in the denominator.

Not useful at all because if we are presented with a problem we’ve never seen before, we end up being thrown off and fail to establish independent thinking.

Well, I think that’s about it. It’s good to recognize the problems of Math class, but at the same time, it doesn’t matter. I probably won’t need this in the future. 😛

What do you think? What do you find annoying about Math class? Comments are welcome.

One response to “Math class is a bit problematic”

  1. In my view, the problem of teaching mathematics is as old as the world. In America there is an association of teachers of mathematics which is always absorbed in testing various approaches to teaching this subject. But no matter what the new approaches are, it is only 10% of pupils who actually will learn mathematics on the level of proficiency. Meaning, when these pupils see a new problem they never saw before, they actually have a chance of solving it. Only 1% of these 10% would ever be able to try a problem nobody solved before.
    Not every teacher at school will meet such a pupil in their entire career!
    So how teachers should approach 90% of their class, who will not be able to operate in mathematics on their own, after they complete their class?
    Majority of pupils should be able to repeat a similar problem after multiple practices. They will also have a chance to understand a concept somewhat through the multiple practice. It might be still 10% who will never learn no matter how much they practice.

    This is sad statistics, but there is good outlook for everyone.
    Mathematical practice improves cognitive performance in everyone, even when mathematics is not fully understood. This is why mathematics will remain in classroom for many years to come. Until something will be discovered that may train the brain with the same or better effectiveness.


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