Learning maths isn’t always an easy business. You might remember watching your maths teacher at school showing you rigid techniques to solve a problem, and urgently trying to keep up.
That’s how most people have learned maths, but it’s not always the most fruitful method. In fact, it can often be the trickiest way of trying to learn maths and retain knowledge. By learning one maths topic in a repetitive way can often just feel like a chore.
As it turns out, there isn’t just one way to approach a maths problem. More and more studies are being carried out in recent years looking into the way people best absorb information and learn to solve mathematical problems.
That said, it is the case with the national education system in the UK that certain maths questions require a certain method of working to reach the correct answer, and in many exams and assessments marks are awarded for showing your working as well as solving the problem correctly.
But with most mental maths, and many more complicated maths problems, it is important to remember that the right answer can be reached in different ways. It is actually advocated more and more these days that students are encouraged to use multiple strategies when solving maths problems.
When teachers insist that there is only one best way to solve a problem, students end up missing out on important things such as creativity, innovation and open-mindedness – which are all crucial elements in making maths more fun and exciting.
Think outside the box when teaching maths. Source: Visualhunt
There is so much value in letting students explore the different approaches to maths, and allowing them to compare and contrast methods of problem solving. When teachers start restricting how students learn, it also limits how much they learn.
In allowing students to compare methods, it helps them to think about how and why certain things work and others don’t when it comes to maths. At the end of the day, you want to inspire your students and get them enjoying maths – not frustrating them and shrink their confidence.
So we can see that most of the bad habits with maths, and where the challenges tend to lie, is in how maths is taught to students in schools. This is a UK-wide issue, and one that has been noticed by students, parents and even Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education). It’s generally found that students fall behind in maths too easily, and don’t receive the right help and support when this happens.
But what we want for maths students is an exposure to different strategies and methods of learning. By doing this, students won’t fall behind so easily or find it hard to catch up, and they will benefit from a more profound and flexible understanding of maths.
Below is a list of approaches to maths that are proven to be successful, and will make your approach to tutoring well-rounded and stimulating for your student. Whether it’s arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, telling time, long division – this guide will help make any maths lessons fun!