• Dee Emm
  • New York, NY
  • United States

This conversation is closed.

Is one of the main reasons why it is difficult to learn math or embrace math for kids is, that they live in a world of inequalities?

Is it all that simple, or is there more to the puzzle? Ted community, what are your thoughts on this take about math-learning difficulties?

Closing Statement from Dee Emm

Two thoughtful answers from Ted Community, both very insightful. Thank you for taking time to reply.

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    Jun 10 2014: Math includes topics involving inequalities. Many students find that working with the concepts of inequalities is challenging. If they are having such a strong experience of inequality in life that it is affecting their ability to learn math, why is that same experience not helping them more easily understand the concepts of inequalities in math class? I don't think the inequalities of life contribute significantly to difficulties in learning math.

    I think there are serious shortcomings in the ways educators try to teach math to the masses using any of the one-size-fits-all approaches. Many, perhaps even most students need to learn math in a more individualized manner in order to "get it" and feel comfortable with it. Instead, most math classes cause discomfort which gets in the way of learning. And the whole class moves on at some predetermined rate in order to make it through everything by the end of the school year, even though many are still struggling with early topics - topics that must be understood in order to "get" the succeeding topics.

    My grandson was struggling with math in our local public school where math was being taught in one of the standard ways. By the end of each year, he was getting a D or F in math. He was pulled out of school and we instead schooled him at home through an online virtual school for two years. I taught him math and he got an A in it. That happened because my teaching was customized to his learning style and because we didn't move on until I knew he had gotten whatever we were working on.

    This past school year for 7th grade, he attended a new charter school where math was taught through an online system, but with individualized help if and when the students needed it, and on a schedule that was somewhat determined by each student. My grandson finished his math a few weeks before the school year ended and he did well at it. And it included learning about inequalities! Other students had similar experiences with their math.
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    May 24 2014: Dee, your post is more profound than at first glance. It has a nice play of words, too.

    "... The thing that makes math difficult for many students is that it takes patience and persistence. For many students, math is not something that comes intuitively or automatically - it takes plenty of effort. It is a subject that sometimes requires students to devote lots and lots of time and energy.

    This means, for many, the problem has little to do with brain power; it is mostly a matter of staying power. And since students don't make their own timelines when it comes to "getting it," they can run out of time as the teacher moves on to the next topic..."

    • Dee Emm

      • +1
      May 24 2014: Thank you Rodrigo, for your comment.
      I pose this question because I have come to believe that structural inequalities prevent a balanced view on what should be a clear understanding of mathematics. This is because the longer people experience and live with inequality, the obvious barriers become difficult to see or solve. And for young learners, inequality translates into learning difficulties of being told one thing, but living in a world where the truth is actually something else.