How to Foster a Love of Mathematics Among Young Learners?

How to Foster a Love of Mathematics Among Young Learners ? | The Enterprise World

In today’s hyper-connected world, apps, and devices connect us to the world at large. Whether it’s the weather, messaging, or the humble calculator, these tools allow us to use what we know to garner a greater understanding of the world around us.However, beneath their shiny exterior, the benefits of modern technology mask a war that has been going on between educators and students for centuries – developing Love of Mathematics content in a way that engages students with mathematics in positive and constructive ways.

Maths can seem difficult to relate to on the outside, but it doesn’t take a Master of STEM Education to realise that, no matter where you live, or what career you choose to pursue, a love of mathematics can go a long way to achieving a career that is fulfilling.

Why is mathematics so reviled amongst ordinary people? Perhaps, it’s how maths is taught in classrooms across Australia. Maybe, it’s a result of decades of traumatic teaching methods having a dire impact on our parents and loved ones. It could be something else entirely.

Let’s dive into the world of mathematics teaching – and understand the challenges and opportunities that present themselves in today’s mathematics-driven world.

Toxic Stereotypes in Maths

How to Foster a Love of Mathematics Among Young Learners ? | The Enterprise World

Have you ever heard someone say they’re ‘just not a maths person’? If so, you may have heard a harmful stereotype. In the decades that maths has been taught in classrooms, students have felt uncertain about their mathematical abilities and have often resorted to this term as a way of opting out of further learning.

In reality, your ability to do mathematics is not determined at birth. It’s a skill that can be acquired, honed, and mastered – much like how professional athletes may hone their skills in activities related to a sport over time.

Tackling negative stereotypes in the classroom can help bring the best out of students. Reminding students that they don’t need to have a gift to understand numbers and that ultimately, it takes practice, can help to drive positive behaviours in the classroom.

Love of Mathematics – Recognising Maths is All Around Us

How to Foster a Love of Mathematics Among Young Learners ? | The Enterprise World

In 2017, Australia’s then Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO, delivered the opening address at the Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia’s fortieth anniversary. The speech itself, by media accounts, was unremarkable – another speech, from one of the thousands of conferences that occur in Australia yearly.

However, those who wished to look a little deeper into the meaning behind the words would note that Finkel’s address was a masterclass on what maths is, how we have progressively learned it over the decades, and how without it, the world would simply stop.

Let’s consider one of Dr Finkel’s questionswhat if we lived in a world without mathematics? In a world where technology is commonplace, it’s easy to forget the widespread impact that maths has had on the world around us. 

If you were to take away even its most basic element, numerals – how would we know how to measure medication? Or determine a score in sport? Know how many beats are in a song before a chorus? The more you think about it, the more you realise – maths is an integral part of the world we live in, and embracing its presence can allow us to learn a lot.

The Lady of the Lamp, Florence Nightingale, exemplified how Love of Mathematics can be integral to one’s success. Over the years, Nightingale’s work as a contemporary nurse brought her high praise from peers – using data-driven information to provide meaningful recommendations for change within modern battlefield medicine. Her research, and embrace of the maths around her, saved a great many lives and shows just how embedded mathematics can be in the world around us.

Inspiring Maths Through Inclusivity

How to Foster a Love of Mathematics Among Young Learners ? | The Enterprise World

How do we begin to foster a love of mathematics in the classroom? Perhaps, it’s time to ditch the dusty old maths textbook, and instead work towards activities that harness the creative talents of students

Fostering a love of mathematics has to be more than simply rote learning in the classroom – after all, real world problems are rarely like the problems posed at school. Instead, consider the ways that you can bring current events into the classroom.

For example, consider the concept of building a home. Each student in the classroom may have a different interpretation of what their dream home may be – some may want apartments, some may want mansions. Using these ideas, you can create a task that gets students to create their dream home using data that’s available online.

These sorts of creative ideas can be really great at inspiring interest in mathematics amongst students. In a world with significant mathematics shortages, teachers with a passion for maths and a drive for success will be critical in addressing the STEM skills shortages that Australia faces in the future.

Pulling it all together, it’s important to recognise that while all learners learn differently, there is truly no such thing as a student that is ‘just not a maths person’. Maths, ultimately, is all around us – whether we choose to accept it or not. In order to infuse the next generation with a love of mathematics, it’s up to teachers to develop ways that foster inclusive programs, and strive to get more students learning about the wonders of Love of Mathematics. While it may seem difficult, it is certainly achievable.

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