The Art of Mastering Mathematics

Learning maths

Christina Sng for Maths@Singapore

In an interview with researcher and former math teacher Frances E. Anderson, she reveals that math is learned best through a variety of teaching methods to create a comprehensive learning experience for students.

These include working with “students one on one, have students work in pairs, or have students in more advanced classes come tutor students in entry-level classes.”

“A lot of teaching math is visual … Teachers might use their words, hand gestures, whiteboards, graphs, diagrams, objects, physical movements, student work examples and more.”

Anderson believes it isn’t true that some students are good at math and others aren’t. It depends on their exposure and experiences to math during their early life.

Parents who ensure their children have more to do with numbers lead them to do better with math later in life. It is the years of practicing of numbers that leads them to have better math skills.

This ties in with Anderson’s solution to helping students catch up with math: more time.

“Students who have fallen behind should have twice as much instruction to engage in grade-level mathematics. And the time spent in math should be organic, rich, task-based teaching and learning. What this means is meaningful, personal experiences need to happen every day in math class.

For example, a hands-on activity in math class, a story problem that is relevant to every student, or the students creating their own story problem with a teacher asking  different types of questions  to challenge the learners.”

She add that what’s more important is the student’s perspective of themselves as someone good at math, a mathematician:

“All students need to see themselves as mathematicians so that they develop a personal connection to mathematics learning.”

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