MultiplyingBigNumbers

The green character Brain is right about multiplication! The red character School Box Man AKA Yorkie Marker is very confused about how to solve this math problem! By the way, the answer to the math problem in this cartoon is 5,332,114.

Do you really dislike math? If you do, the design of American math tests could be to blame! They are purposely designed to confuse students in math classes, plus students are getting ridiculously over-tested nowadays. It’s even damaging to the health, hearts & brains of both the students & teachers! Because of this, the students start to lose interest in the subject or fear it. What a shame, because mathematics is actually something beautiful. Math is everything, and we need to use it to solve everyday problems.

There is more to math than just number-crunching! It is also about shapes, logic, reasoning, space and theories. However, some textbooks are ineffective in students’ education. Good teachers make math exciting & enjoyable despite seemingly boring textbooks, but bad teachers don’t become better ones just because of how a textbook is written. Textbooks are important & necessary for studying & learning math, but the most important factor in school effectiveness is the teacher(s). Because of how ineffective & damaging some textbooks are to students’ education, some teachers have even given up teaching!

The context that is chosen in the questions of the math tests confuse young learners. They use terms that English Language Learners may not know; female math students, those from low-income homes & minority cultural groups are particularly damaged by the strange context & complicated language of the tests. In other countries, contexts are minimized since they create barriers that prevent some students from understanding the questions properly. Some multiple-choice questions have answers to choose from, but the way that the answers are printed create more confusion!

Sometimes, math classes turn into psychological prisons because of this phenomenon! Some students start to believe that they’re stupid because they failed a math test, yet, these same students may have did well in math in the past. The tests are actually being too comparative to the students, not to mention harsh, instead of assessing mathematical understanding. Some states have laws that forbid calculators in math tests; however, even a genius needs a calculator to keep track sometimes! The systems of some schools are designed to label kids about how well they can do math. Fellow math students may categorize each other as smart or stupid, quick or slow. Although, not everyone learns about something the exact same way.

Girls in math classes like to know why a method works, where it comes from and how it relates to previous methods they learned. It helps when they can see why the method works. On the other hand, when they don’t know how they got the right answers, it spoils the purpose of the lessons. Also, most students who drop math classes are girls, although they may be highly suited for math.

It’s the misrepresentation of mathematics that’s creating the problem; it even pulls students & teachers away from important mathematical activities & learning opportunities! To encourage kids to do mathematics, it should be represented in a more enjoyable way! Have your students play games that are related to mathematics. Let them do puzzles and play with toys. Encouraging kids to play with building blocks is a good start. Other good examples are jigsaw puzzles, dice & Rubik’s Cubes, anything that involves fitting objects together or rotating them. Make the puzzles interesting, too, so they won’t get bored but instead get some enthusiasm!

The 2 girls Candy(left) & Fudge(right) are building a pyramid of legoes with their toes! Legoes can help improve a child's spatial thinking skills.

The 2 girls Candy(left) & Fudge(right) are building a pyramid of legoes with their toes! Legoes can help improve a child’s spatialization skills.


My source of reference for this essay is a book entitled “What’s Math Got To Do It?” by Jo Boaler. I recommend reading it for more information about how to help American children learn to love mathematics.