Why We Are So Bad At Maths

Maths is still considered to be one of the most challenging subjects (and yet most important) taught in schools today.

What makes maths so difficult to grasp?

Part of the problem is hereditary and I don’t mean in the genetic sense. Many young people have inherited their parents phobias and anxieties around maths, as a result of hearing them talk of their struggles in the subject, or because they have heard their parents say how their maths skills became irrelevant later on in life.

However, one of the biggest missed tricks in the education of maths is something I refer to as the big fat WHY.

When we embark on any learning journey, the majority of people need to know why the content is relevant to them, before they can engage in learning about it.

The trouble with maths is we assume that the “Why you should learn this” speaks for itself. Maths crops up in our everyday lives. But unless we proposition everyday maths skills in a way that appeals to the learners current circumstances or desires, we will always assume that they should simply engage, instead of enticing them into the subject with an irresistible proposition.

Consider the differences of the two polar opposite statements below: “We are going to learn about percentages. Go to page 124 of your workbooks. There will be a test in 2 weeks, so pay attention.”

In comparison to: “Would you like to know which credit cards give you the best rate? Which bank accounts are going to give you the most money? Which car would cost you the most of your hard earned cash on a repayment scheme if you were chasing between a Lamborghini and a Ferrari? How much of a chocolate fudge cheesecake you can eat before you hit your daily intake of calories? Then let’s learn about percentages!”

Clearly the second statement takes up more time and energy, but it also gives the all important big fat WHY!

When we know why we should do or learn something, our desire to engage increases. If someone had made it clear to me why I should know about Pythagoras’s theorem when I…

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