The average youth today has given up on understanding the mechanics of mathematics. It just doesn't talk to them. Why is that? Their aversion to the subject may start as early as the second or third grades when the multiplication tables are first introduced and studying them takes just too much effort. And this is followed soon after by division and geometry, subjects that don't seem to have any relevance to most teens.
What seems to be missing in educating children in math is its relevance to their everyday lives. With the ease of clicking on their smartphone calculator app to figure out even the simplest equation, why would they need to understand how a 10% discount on a $100 MP4, means they end up paying $10 less? The important thing to them is the final cost.
The importance of a good understanding of numbers seems to have faded with the advanced technological devices available to us and the situation has not been helped by the use of outdated teaching methods especially in the poorer schools in every country. Still, even children of low socio-economic backgrounds may possess significant mathematical aptitudes. And indeed, it has been found that mathematical proficiency (often linked with language) may even ‘run in families.'
Why is math so important?
Sharpening good math skills increases one's ability to analyze, identify patterns and see certain relationships. It also helps in problem solving in any field of endeavor.
There is a certain order to mathematics that strengthens one's ability to organize and think logically and this discipline, when encouraged in the early years, can carry on throughout a person's lifetime and help him or her reach their goals in a more efficient manner.
Businesses run on certain specific mathematical intellects. Marketing ideas are what move consumers to spend their money and this cannot be done without understanding how discounting and promotion theories work and when to use them to motivate shoppers.
Furthermore, consumers with good math skills find decision making easier and while it is true that anyone with a smartphone can click on the calculator app to find out the final cost of an item, studies have shown that understanding and working with numbers like discounts, fees and interest rates are key in making smarter money moves, especially in the financial arena.
Outdated Teaching Methods
Teaching methods today have changed only slightly and certainly not enough. Schools stress memorization and students are taught by rote instead of analyzing and understanding, focusing primarily on test scores. But this bypasses the essential importance of developing the skills associated with learning and thinking and leaves many students with a gaping hole of understanding as they move forward. Math instruction should integrate advances in technology with hands-on and contextual learning to stimulate students' imagination and spark their curiosity from an early age.
Classroom settings should be used to teach students about the real world and the importance of money and finance and how they come into play in their daily lives. Teaching them about the concepts of savings and investing from an early age will certainly be more useful in the long run than learning about cosines and sines.
There are many instructional courses online that could interest even a 14-year old and these could be employed in combination with a class taught within the parameters of a classroom. Teens are glued to their mobile phones in any event so why not have them use the plethora of educational tools that are offered on their iPhones and Androids? A recent financial app put out by DailyForex.com is a useful introduction to one of today's most popular investment vehicles and can be extremely beneficial in attracting the newbie trader to the world of Forex.
All changes are difficult and implementing new pedagogic methods is a very slow process indeed. But the first step is recognizing the situation and its inherent shortcomings and making a conscious determination to change them. Math and science do not remain static. Neither should the manner of their instruction continue unchanged.