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Failing in Math? Part I
In an article written earlier this year, I talked about the learning difficulties faced by students today. Curriculum reform and the quality of teaching are two major reasons leading to demotivated pupils in mathematics. However, these are extrinsic and uncontrollable factors. Therefore, I would like to emphasize more intrinsic factors such as parents as well as students can do something to improve their mathematics.
1. Rating – Math Scare Index: (tick from 1 to 5 where 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree)
1. I’m afraid my math report card is below the class average
2. I don’t like my math class at school.
3. I don’t know how to ask math questions at school.
4. I think I am illiterate in mathematics.
5. I need someone to give me lessons and extra help.
6. I fear losing my competitive edge in my career due to my lack of math skills.
7. Mathematics is just one type of intelligence. Even though I’m not good at it, I still have other types of intelligence.
8. I’m not good with numbers.
9. Word problems scare and confuse me all the time.
10. I don’t know how to apply math in my daily life.
Add your total score.
If you have: 10 – 18: You are very confident and at the top of your math class.
19 – 26: You can easily catch up to be top of the class.
27 – 34: You are not alone. Most students are like you. Work a little harder and you will succeed.
35 – 42: You are not confident enough in math and need extra help.
43 – 50: You need to find a professional consultant and get immediate assistance.
2. After doing the assessment to find out where your child ranks in terms of mathematics, you need to know precisely what type of problems he is facing. Here are some frequently asked questions from parents.
a. How come my kids always get good grades on their homework but fail their tests? To answer this question, we need to know if they really understand the concept of homework exercises. When doing homework, many children like to ask for the answer without wanting to understand how to achieve it. Some children need tutors just to help them with homework, but critical thinking is far more important and valuable than getting the answer right.
b. Is it useful to buy exercise books for my child?
Doing lots of exercises can sometimes help, but often children just become robots, doing the same repetitive things without thinking. Some children are even worse and memorize the answer key. Workbooks are primarily intended for more advanced students who wish to solve more difficult problems.
vs. How do I know if my child really understands the concept or is just pretending to understand?
Whenever teachers ask students whether they understand or not, most respond with a “yes”. However, later, when the teacher gives a similar exercise using the same concept, most students cannot respond. In a typical classroom, each teacher is responsible for teaching so many students with different IQ levels and understanding. It is therefore almost impossible for a teacher to diagnose the specific problems of each student. Fortunately, many parents accompany their elementary school children with their homework to find out where exactly the problem lies. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case for high school children.
D. My child failed math at a young age. What can I do?
Failure is part of life’s experiences. Without experiencing failure, success is hard to come by. In this article (I), I offer parents the opportunity to examine and assess the problems faced by their children. I will talk about ways to fix these problems in the next article.
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