“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“Change for Change sake.”
Both are commonly used phrases…but when it comes to teaching math, we would say the first is a good rule to live by!
Over the years, education philosophy and curriculum have changed – especially as technology becomes more relevant to student’s lives. Sometimes, though, these changes spill over to the one subject that doesn’t really change at all – mathematics.
A few years ago, the math curriculum was altered to allow students to do more “discovery” when learning math and less memorization of facts and concepts. Discovery is a wonderful concept in so many subjects but for many math educators, this has come to be known as “fuzzy” math.
What’s this “Discovery Math” all about?
Discovery Math places less emphasis on memorization of basic math facts (such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and standard algorithms (for long addition, subtraction, multiplication and division), the way most of us would have been taught math.
Why does “discovery math” pose a problem? Well for some students it isn’t at all! But for those who find math more challenging, it just might be. Imagine a student in grade 7 or 8 to trying to simply a fraction when they don’t have access to basic multiplication facts. How would they know how to simplify 15/33 if they don’t know that 3 goes into both of these numbers? This is just one really simple example but you get the idea!
In some cases, for students who find math difficult, discovery math can add to their anxiety. They don’t naturally relate to numbers and need a strong foundation to give them confidence to work through the subject. Math anxiety naturally leads to a dislike of the subject…a dislike of the subject leads to an inclination to avoid it…avoidance leads to gaps in understanding and gaps in understanding leads to poor results and even more anxiety. What a vicious cycle!
So how can I ensure my child is doing well in math and learning these core concepts??
Don’t worry! As a parent there is a lot you can do to support your kids – arming them with the basic concepts and algorithms of math can help to put an end to this cycle and ensure they succeed. The number one tip we give to any parent who comes into our centre is you are in control of your child’s education and you know what’s best for them! Seeking additional support when needed (tutoring, online resources, etc) can make a world of difference to their confidence and performance in math.
When parents ask us how they can help their kids with core math concepts in the home, we often recommend the use of flash cards – they are GREAT way to have fun and keep your kids engaged while learning. All you have to do is write some basic equations on the cards…easy as pie (no pun intended)! We are experts in providing kids with the fundamental skills of math so we would be happy to chat more in person to give you some tips.
There are a number of parents across Canada who have become involved in a movement to get back to the basics with math. If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can visit wisemath.org to learn more.
Contact us for more information or to book a free mathematics assessment (just mention that you found us on North Shore Mama).
About Marine Drive Math & Science Centre
Since 1997 the Math & Science Centre, conveniently located on the fourth floor of Capilano Mall, has been providing tutorial services to students in North and West Vancouver. In that time we have helped over 1500 students improve their grades and confidence.
Our main focus is Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English
We are proud to say that our tutors have been working at the Math & Science Centre for many years. They have worked with hundreds of learners and have gained exceptional experience in helping students with many different learning styles and abilities – from those who are struggling to those who are ready to be challenged.