Solve: Why Math is Hard?

Before I became a nurse, teacher, licensed real estate appraiser, I became first as a mathematics lover. Some consider me a geek then, but I was not, I just simply love the logic of mathematics. Now, I can say my mathematics skills have deteriorated significantly, when I am confronted with numbers, I do not leave my chair not until I somehow figure out what could be the problem. So, why then mathematics is difficult to many of us? Is there something can be done?

Mathematics is much more than counting and simple arithmetic. It is a cumulative science in which new results are built upon and depend on earlier results. Humans have accumulated a huge amount of mathematical knowledge – far  more than a person can learn in a lifetime, even if the person spent all of their time studying mathematics. This history perhaps will give us the impression the necessity of mathematics. We may not appreciate the subject, but it useful because without it, the world will end up in chaos, for sure.

People are born with an innate ability to deal with mathematical numbers and the human brain has components that can adapt to learning and using mathematics. Humans vary considerably in their innate mathematical abilities or intelligence that is affected by the environment, motivation, maturation, attitude and instruction. These affect the success of a student as many claimed. Personally, social factors influenced mathematics skills more than the biological counterparts. I am fortunate to have good teachers in mathematics, especially in high school. They were not just my teachers, they became my role models. I was literally amazed on how they make something complex, simple in the mathematics perspective.

Math is hard for many -- male and female, children and adults. While a "math gene" has not been discovered, experts say that early school-age boys and girls tend to approach the subject differently, influenced by biological, environmental and educational factors. A certain amount of math knowledge and skill is innate--genetic in origin. The  trait of loving mathematics can be inherited dominantly and recessively. Futhermore, new neuroimaging techniques are making clearer how different areas of the brain are tapped for various visually and linguistically based mathematical tasks, which helps explain the ways someone can trip over math. In addition, particular area of the parietal lobe is thought to be important for mathematical abilities and spatial reasoning. Lastly, neuroimaging suggests that most girls develop language skills faster and most boys develop spatial and visual abilities faster. This helps explain why boys traditionally have been seen as better at math, and why some girls have steered away from it.

On the other hand, attitude toward mathematics affects how well or how often you do it, and how much enjoyment you derive from it. Many students taking mathematics courses in college have a negative attitude toward mathematics that can be described as "math anxiety" or "math avoidance." Math anxiety is a state of such tension or fear that the learning process in mathematics is blocked or interrupted. Math avoidance usually occurs because this fear or tension causes a person to react negatively to mathematical situations and therefore avoid them as much as possible.

This is something I do not want my niece and nephew will have. The anxiety brought about by numbers. I had some form of it, but my father somehow helped me to overcome it. With the help of my competent teachers, I was able to win various contests in Mathematics. My biggest competition was an inter-regional competition participated by 25 provinces in Southern Philippines. I lost but I treasured the experience. I hope my niece and nephew could experience that in the future (just my dream ).

The study of mathematics stands, in many ways, as a gateway to student success in education. This is becoming particularly true as our society moves inexorably into the technological age. Therefore, it is vital that more students develop higher levels of competency in mathematics. Personally, I have high respect to people, who are good in mathematics. Based on my observation, they are more logical and it is not hard to speak with them. They treat problems objectively, thereby helping them to come up with a better solution. Although I have also met many people, who are good at mathematics but literally showed poor decision skills in my point of view. Perhaps, they are influenced by other social factors, as well. Generally speaking, there is a need to focus on improving the ability of young students in Mathematics. The more people who are good at it, the more probability that order will be realized in our society.

Everyone should be aware on their mathematical capabilities. It will also help them distinguish their weaknesses and somehow improve these through hard work. In the long run, students will be optimistic towards math that there is nothing to worry, if they are not good at math because they are other abilities that they excel that they should focus and improve more. With the help of teachers, everyone must find more efficient techniques to make mathematics as a more interesting subject and less difficult one.


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