December 14, 2017
This week I came across a couple articles discussing various math myths when it comes to teaching. Each of the myths they discussed is very prevalent in the “math” world and are commonly seen in homeschool communities. As a teacher, I’ve seen these myths first hand in the classroom; students have been told these myths over and over throughout their education. By the time they got to my classroom they had already adopted an attitude of defeat which was hard to overcome in the following semester/year. Each of these math myths played a huge part in the creating and developing of UnLock Math into the program it is today. Here at UnLock Math, we want our students to be successful and gain a sense of confidence when it comes to learning math.
So many parents out their struggle with teaching their children and the most common reason its so stressful is because the parents themselves don’t see themselves being good at the subject or they just find it too daunting to try to go through each concept with their child. If you plan on homeschooling long term, this becomes a bigger issue especially when it comes to looking at post-secondary education. Did you adequately prepare your child to handle this next step in their education?
5 Common Math Myths
To start off, let’s recap the five myths found on the internet and then we’ll dive into each one ourselves:
- The “math gene”
- You don’t need math
- The “drill and kill” method of learning
- The “right way” — only one way to solve a problem
- Memory and speed — math is just about memorization to solve problems quickly
The “math gene”
The first myth on this list is probably the most common. As a math teacher, I often hear this misconception that you either have the math gene, or you don’t. That it’s something you “get” and will, therefore, be successful at over someone who is completely lost. Students don’t want to try and put effort into learning something because it will not make sense to them regardless of how you explain something. This idea is a huge misconception that many students carry with them as they progress through high school math. You will only ever be as good at math as the amount of practice you put into it. You cannot learn something and completely understand it without practicing it multiple times using various problem-solving methods. With each of our courses, we make sure we break down each concept into small chunks so that it is easy for students to understand what they’re learning and applying to practice problems. Each daily lesson comes with four separate levels of practice questions to ensure that each concept is mastered before moving on.
You don’t need math
Earlier this week I was working with a student who was struggling to understand a concept in her math lesson and she was really frustrated. Her initial reaction when I was trying to explain it to it to her was asking when she would ever use it and why she had to learn it in the first place. People often underestimate how much we use math in our everyday life! It is a basic skill that everyone needs! Just think of all the jobs and life skills that require math: shopping/going out to eat, driving, architecture, sales, etc. Here at Unlock Math, we understand just how important it is to understand these math concepts in order to be the most successful in the future. We go through each lesson and break each topic down so that it’s less stressful and daunting for the students. Putting in the practice for each of the concepts makes the learning process easier for kids and they are able to apply them in the future because they have become second nature to them.
The “drill and kill” method of learning
Next on the list is the “drill and kill” method. There are a lot of homeschool curriculum out there that use this as their main method of teaching especially when it comes to math. Although this method of learning can work for some students, I don’t think it is the most efficient way to introduce and teach new concepts. If a student doesn’t understand something or is experiencing anxiety when it comes to math, this can leave them feeling overwhelmed and defeated before even starting. With our program, we like to break down each lesson into a consistent format and incorporate various learning styles so that there is something for everyone. Each of our questions appears on the screen one at a time so students aren’t overwhelmed with the number of questions they have to complete and can just focus on applying these new skills one at a time. If students don’t understand a concept from the beginning, they won’t benefit from the “drill and kill” method.
The right way — there’s only one way to solve a problem
Another common myth when it comes to math is that there is only ever one “proper or right” way to solve problems. I think the best way to debunk this is by comparing it to the different learning styles. There are visual learners, note takers, auditory learners, hands-on learners, etc. We try to incorporate the various styles into our program and the ways we present new topics so that it is clear to the students and they fully understand the concept. Even in math, there are different types of questions and how they are asked: word problems, equations, graphs, etc. Throughout the examples, we include in our videos we often point out that there is more than one way to do set up or solve an equation but that particular way is how Alesia is going to solve it. The key point in each method is that you stay consistent and follow it through for each question. For math, it is so important that students show all of their work when it comes to problem-solving so if mistakes are made they can easily be spotted and corrected.
Memory and speed — math is just about memorization to solve problems quickly
The final myth is the idea that math is just a game of memorization in order to become quick/fast at it. If students are just memorizing formulas, they aren’t understanding why they’re doing it that way and then, in turn, cannot solve when the problem asked in the familiar format. Students cannot just “know” concepts without fully understanding the WHY behind their skills. When they understand why they are doing what they’re doing, it can easily be applied to other questions that are similar and build on them to more difficult concepts in the future.
Homeschooling our children gives us the opportunity to guide our children and take control of their education in its entirety. Why wouldn’t we want to give them the best chance and opportunities possible? Our math courses incorporate many different teaching styles so that when students go through it (no matter what their learning style is) they too can have that “ah-ha” moment and gain the necessary math skills to become “pro-mathletes”! That’s what makes our job as educators so rewarding! Seeing the moment where it all clicks and makes sense for them; they have a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work. We love getting emails or messages from our customers saying how successful their child has been in the program and how they are finally starting to enjoy math! Have you faced any of these myths in your own house as a homeschool parent? Leave us a comment below and let us, know…we love, hearing your stories!
Math can be fun and easy to understand given they have the right environment to learn. After all, these tops myths are exactly that…MYTHS!