Why is Maths Difficult For So Many Students
Mathematics is one of the most feared and despised subjects. Students across ages and nations stand unified in their dislike for it. Whether it’s an irrational fear or a preconceived notion, plenty of factors are holding them back from acing Maths.
There are 4 major factors why student’s struggle with this subject. Recognizing and resolving these issues can help you excel in Maths.
1- Distorted Assumptions
How we perceive a subject influences our reaction and affinity towards it. Often, students feel overwhelmed with Maths because they already expect it to be dull and dreadful.
Expectations: When family or friends share their negative maths experiences, they might trigger a strong dislike for the subject in the child. If your father didn’t like it or your sister scores abysmally in it, you might expect the same for yourself. Furthermore, certain stereotypes determine our attitudes towards maths. It might make certain students refrain from the subject. For example, girls are prejudiced to be weaker at it than boys. This can make females apprehensive of studying Maths. It’s crucial to dispel such beliefs and make the primary school to university students evaluate the subject unbiasedly.
Baseless Notions: The biggest myth around the subject is its lack of application in the real world. Some children find it unimportant and frivolous. Students fail to understand the use of algebra or mensuration outside the class. They need to realise the importance of Maths in everyday life and employability. They also need to understand that the mechanisms used to solve maths enhances one’s cognitive skills such as self-regulation, reasoning and problem-solving skills.
2 – Concepts and Methods
Cumulative Maths: As a subject, mathematics is cumulative and progressive. It is learned over time and needs a strong base to rise upon. If the basic mathematical concepts are unclear, the student will find it harder to grasp the next topics. For instance, if the child can’t multiply or divide well, they won’t solve fractions. To be proficient in maths, it’s crucial to build a solid foundation and revise topics connected.
Method of Teaching: The teacher’s approach to impart education is extremely important. It determines a child’s aptitude and interest in different subjects. The use of practical examples can help them understand the concepts clearly. Maths is best taught with real-life explanations rather than drab repetition and rote learning. Students lose interest in maths if their teacher is incapable and has a tedious way of teaching.
3- Practice and Patience
Unlike some subjects, just glancing over the theory or learning formulas isn’t sufficient in Maths. Students need consistent practice to become competent in it. They tend to feel confident while the teacher solves the questions for them. However, they falter in solving them on their own, especially in the case of hard maths problems. Thus, it’s important to go through each concept multiple times with a variety of relevant questions. The best way to master Mathematics is through an immense amount of patient practice.
4- Personal Attributes and Challenges
Type of Learner– Each student learns differently. While some prefer auditory or visual approaches, others are kinaesthetic learners. Brain regions also govern students’ preferences and abilities. For instance, left-brained people tend to be better at maths than right-brained. Thus, the potential to learn maths effectively differs widely. It can be augmented with tailored teaching to suit the individual students’ needs.
Learning disabilities– Various disabilities affect a child’s competency in Maths. Some of these disorders are as follows:
Autism: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders have deficits in executive functioning. Thus, solving calculations with multiple steps and processes is challenging for them.
Dyscalculia: Students with this learning disorder have difficulties in understanding maths-based functions. They cannot process and perform numeric operations.
Dyslexia: This disorder affects the perception of the child. Numbers and figures are mixed up or reordered while reading. Hence, dyslexic students can’t comprehend Maths and other school subjects easily.
Dyspraxia: Students with this disability lack fine motor skills. They tend to write slowly and in a messy manner, which makes it harder to decipher maths equations. They are unable to practice consistently, and hence, their maths skills deteriorate.
Attention Disorders– Students with ADD or ADHD have a short attention span. They are easily distracted and can’t concentrate long enough on any topic. They lack the patience to repetitively practise each concept due to hyperactivity. Research shows that students with ADHD are more likely to have maths difficulties than others. They are unable to fully understand most basic concepts as their attention waivers while being taught. Since maths is highly cumulative, it makes learning the subject especially harder for them. Once their foundation weakens, maths become more complicated for them with each succeeding grade.
Maths Anxiety– Some students’ self-doubt and apprehension of their Maths abilities turn into fear. This is known as Maths Phobia. It’s an irrational fear that causes distress and further disrupts their performance in the subject. Multiple researchers have concluded that students with maths anxiety tend to avoid the subject. This results in a lack of practice and exposure to the subject. Consequently, their mathematical knowledge declines.
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