I work in IT, which, contrary to popular belief, is a field in which one can easily avoid math if they choose the right areas of IT. Software development for business, for instance, generally does not involve much math at all.

Then one fine day I gained an interest in solving a particularly pernicious combinatorial optimisation problem. I researched the hell out of it, but avoided the mathematical explanations, looking instead at English explanations of how the problem is solved. Then once I understood the problem and how it was solved the math (mostly linear algebra) completely made sense and was easy to work with.

I’ve since moved on to other areas that require calculus in addition to linear algebra. But I wonder if the abstract way that much of mathematics is taught in school is a barrier to some people understanding it. Computer science offers a whole range of ways of applying otherwise abstract concepts in to concrete problems.

]]>I’ve come across people in college who couldn’t add two fractions. They’d go straight for the calculator and end up screwed if there was an x or y to be handled in there. Handling fractions is primary school stuff, and I believe that people fall by the wayside at 9/10/11, around the time of long division, handling fractions etc.

If we’re serious about education for a modern technology economy, we need to get more serious about maths at a younger age – not keep tweaking how we teach it to 17 year olds. I believe there are now teaching assistants in schools, but what’s really needed is full teachers going around the classes hoovering up the struggling kids and getting them over the line for what they need to complete the years work – we might also want to consider summer school to that end if we’re serious about education.

Kids will feel good about maths when they know how to do them, and this is more likely to happen where extra help is provided. That was my (lucky) experience of having an educator in the home, turning my Ds into As. Every kid loves being good at something, and hates being crap at something. We persist, however, as kids where adulation is the result, regardless of if we can ever achieve it – that’s why I loved soccer so much as a kid despite being utterly rubbish. Kids need to see positive rewards for education, and need help to get better so they can enjoy it. I loved writing essays in primary school, because I got good grades. I hated English in secondary school, because it was subjective and I started to suck at it.

Maths aside, I was also fortunate enough to receive help in other subjects through private grinds. Again, I would propose that (at least some) secondary schools should have teachers providing after school help on an as-needed basis. If you’re in the city then the local university/college will often fund extra teaching for disadvantaged kids, but that doesn’t help the smaller communities.

Middle class kids have a real leg up in the points race due to being able to afford grinds, and due to more positive parental attitudes to education (generalizing heavily, I’ll admit). I would work to intervene first in primary schools, but in a mandatory way, to ensure the curriculum is understood (and therefore enjoyed) by as many kids as possible.

]]>They could play hide and seek with the number “13″ reading the journal..

]]>https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/litmus-math-copybook/id943143615?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.keithmthunzi.litmus&hl=en_GB ]]>

A bad teacher teaches a hatred of maths.

A good teacher teaches a love of maths.

Once you love your subject you learn it yourself with enthusiasm.

Maths is the “ultimate poetry”…nobody knows if it is a product of the human mind or a manifestation of nature. ]]>