a reply to: Iamthatbish
I attended a private Christian school growing up, so what may have been ubiquitous culturally during my childhood, I am probably unaware of it. My
parents wouldn't even let me watch the Simpsons, MTV or Rosanne growing up, so when it came to people outside of their highly insulated community, I
was largely unable to relate to them.
I think our math instruction came from a book written in 1820 or something like that, lol. I do remember doing square roots long handed and I've
never seen that in any public school curriculum or even college level for that matter, and I tutored remedial math at the university level for five
years while I got my B.S.
I know this much, I've tutored many high school students who have been struggling of friends of mine over the years and was able to pull most of them
out of the danger zone. This one girl in particular is now working on an engineering degree and when I first started teaching her mathematics the way
I learned it she was a failing student in the topic. Math is now a passion of hers and she attributes that to our time together.
Personally, I think mathematics is indifferent from any other form of logic. You have set definitions and rules to follow and once you learn those
rules, you can manipulate the variables in almost unlimited ways. Personally, I think math should almost be taught like a symbolic logic therefore
language shouldn't matter at all. The only area of math where you really need a lot of memorization is geometry and that is a subject which really
can be circumvented in many situations other than its most basic formulas. Proofs are just terrible. Why we are still hung up on forcing children to
memorize proofs in this day and age is beyond me. We should be teaching the subject more like a set of options going from basic linear math to algebra
to trig to calc and really teaching the whole thing more fluidly instead of compartmentalizing things.
I've gotten 8 year olds to replicate the basic understandings necessary to deal with algebra. There is no reason we have to wait until 5th grade to
introduce these concepts. They should encounter their first variables almost right out of the gate, and this way when they come across variables in
the future, it won't be as confusing for them.
What I've seen in most people who struggle with math is an emotional shutdown. Their mind encounters things it doesn't understand and it gets hung
up on those. If instead of using complicated variables like greek symbols, we teach people to substitute in whatever variable works for them as if it
were a programming language, they seem to have an easier time at things.
Often times, I'd only ever use a, b, c, d, etc, even at the college level. People seem to be less overwhelmed solving for "a" than they are solving
for delta for one reason or another. I guess it is literally all greek to them. ;p