A common myth is that if a kid isn’t born with the ability to excel in it, it isn’t worth putting in the effort to try it. Wrong. This myth has no basis for truth, and any belief in it can be harmful to your child. But is math fun for a kid who doesn’t think so? The answer is unique for each student. And any system that tries to enforce or foster a uniform attitude will not work.
Math has its Haters and Lovers
I’ve worked with many students who hate or love math. Lovers love it because the unique stimulation, the challenge, and the joy gleaned from problem solving are fun. And haters hate math because they think it is dry, allows no room for human emotion, and stifles some types of creativity. They find it tedious, dull, and a chore.
But that doesn’t mean that haters cannot do it or cannot be good at it. They can. The big reason for many is that math has always felt like one big club with a bunch of rules that make no sense. And they have to follow those rules at all costs.
Listen: Don’t ever think of messing up things as abnormal; it’s part of learning math. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not challenging yourself enough. Things always go wrong when you’re studying offline or on your own. You’ll make mistakes and find things hard. It’s part of the process.
But the main difference between a pro and an amateur is how they handle mistakes, poor test scores, tellings-off, and other general regrets. There’s a lot of talk among teachers about the word resilience, and this is what they mean: it’s the ability to bounce back when things go wrong.
So How Should We Bounce Back to Make Math Fun?
I cleaned out my storeroom a few days ago. Sounds boring, right? Wrong. It was exciting because in sorting through things I hadn’t used in over a year, I had a mind-blowing revelation: If it doesn’t work for you, don’t keep it.
We’ve all heard that adage:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
I realized I’d been practicing a little insanity. I was so silly that I kept the old stuff that didn’t make me feel good. It was because, in the back of my mind, I hoped that one day I’d use them.
Some part of me was sure I’d choose to use something that didn’t work for me – that I used – over a thing that did. As in, “This is so me, and I feel so great in it!”
That experience in my storeroom made me think: How often do we hold on to beliefs and habits that aren’t serving us in hopes that “someday” they will? Why not just ditch those old ways that don’t work and use new ones that do work?
You’ve Got to Do Something You’ve Never Done!
I see that experience a lot in the math world. If we’re not happy with our old ways of learning math, we’ll often work harder doing the same things rather than venturing out to learn more skills that will make us math pros. I’ve also been guilty of that one – it’s a trap!
We don’t realize how much power we have to decide to stop “using” what’s not working, and doing something else that does work.
As humans, we seek comfort and security. It often keeps us stuck in not just old things but a lifestyle or sometimes even a situation that hurts. In our search for that fake sense of “security,” we miss happiness, joy, and the sheer thrill of learning math that is fun. In our quest for safety, we often sit on the sidelines while life happens around us and without us.
Sure. It’s scary to do something we’ve never done before. Most of you never think about learning math online. But you know the other old saying:
“To get something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.”
You’ve got to. I’m not going to make you a math magician. All you have to do is to find some things that make you feel great. In the same way, you’re not going to be a math pro if you keep studying it the same ways you already know aren’t working.
So what’s not working for you? Maybe it’s a mindset you’ve put on or a belief you have about your old ways of learning math. And maybe it’s some past hurt you’ve been holding on to that you can choose – today – to leave in the past.
Nobody was stopping me from getting rid of my old, unflattering stuff but me. Who’s stopping you?
So Ditch the Old Ways to Make Your Math Fun
I know it’s more common for a kid to be a “math hater” than a “math lover.” It is perfectly okay to hate math if you keep learning it in the same old ways. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it in other ways. Many websites are there encourage you to learn it.
A case in point is 92 Campus, a treasure trove of resources. The platform allows you to study math at any pace. As math is not fun for many of you, the simplicity of this site offers relief. Everything is easy to follow and laid out in a neat and concise way. It’s a great supplement to your old ways of learning math.
So who’s stopping you from getting rid of your old (offline) ways? Ditch that system. Start learning math with an online expert who will help you practice exercises and solve problems. An extra edge is that online teachers help you see how math is fun in their attitude and approach. They motivate and teach you in a more personal style that’s not possible offline.
An intuitive editor and a published writer, with extensive experience writing/editing papers on many subjects.
He also worked as an editor (at JFE), senior content writer (at SORCIM.com), and proofreader in several multinational companies.
You can reach him at @concisegem (Twitter) or firstname.lastname@example.org