Ask any high schooler in America what their least favorite subject is and there is one subject you’ll get more than others: math.
You see it in sitcoms and movies all the time; students are always concerned about an upcoming math test that will be the death of them.
I never understood the hatred for math growing up. Math is such a binary object. There’s no room for debate, there is always one right answer to every problem.
Compare this to English and history, where everything is vague and has some sort of deeper meaning that you have to spend half an hour decoding. English buffs will tell you that this gives them a chance to better express themselves in their writing and history buffs will tell you all about different perspectives and what history means to us in the modern day.
Some may point to the recent implementation of Common Core, which has changed the way math is taught in primary and secondary school. Common Core has moved math from a list of problems to solve to more practical implementations.
This isn’t the problem with math though. The problem with math is the very reason that I love math so much: there’s only one answer.
Since every problem only has one correct answer, it’s much more likely that a student will get the answer wrong if they aren’t following the lessons.
Two plus two will always equal four no matter what anyone says, but the answer to the question “Did Abraham Lincoln properly handle the Civil War?” can be both yes and no, in a million different ways.
Math has that extra step, rather than simply memorizing a list of dates or grammar rules. M ath is like a toolbox. The learning is split into two parts, knowing what each tool does and knowing what tools can be used to solve which problems.
The hatred of math is not necessarily due to teachers either. You can’t force a student to find something fun. My math professors have done their best to break up the long lectures with different ways of looking at math, but at the end of the day math is math.
Math will always be the sore spot in every student’s schedule because it’s hard. However, it’s also very rewarding, knowing that you took five minutes to solve one problem and you watch everything fall into place.