New teaching approaches are needed for math and science. Ever ask an average teenage girl how she feels about science and math? Reponses vary from “I can’t seem to get it” to “Ech, I can’t stand it” and far worse.
What is it about math and science instruction today that turns off most adolescents? Was it so long ago that they squealed with excitement at being able to count from 1 to 10 or multiply 5 x 8? And weren’t
those visits to the zoo an experience they insisted on doing over and over again?
Despite so much emphasis these days on redeeming the environment and saving wildlife and plants from extinction , what ever happened to childhood curiosity about nature and animals? Where has that disappeared to?
Outdated Teaching Methods
It seems to me that education today has not kept up with the times. Despite all the technological advancements made over the last few decades, the curriculum supplied to math and science teachers in the U.S. is the same one used 10 or 15 years ago. In fact, just the idea of a teacher standing in front of the class writing on a blackboard is so outdated it almost recalls a time of another era.
Students find it difficult to reconcile the old fashioned teaching methods employed by existing educational institutions with their modern lives. Why pay attention to an instructional figure speaking about the life of a chimpanzee when they can click on their tablets or smartphones and get an exciting in-depth portrayal of chimps jumping from tree to tree in forests all across the world?
How can a one-dimensional teacher compete with everything the Internet has to offer? Remember the days when a teacher would call you up to write the correct answer to a mathematical equation on the board? Sounds like something out of history book. But it still happens today in many classroom settings.
And that is the crux of the problem.
Math is Essential Today
The subject of mathematics is as important today as it was years ago. All computer sciences depend on numbers to keep things moving. And with current emphasis on money and business, one would be hard pressed to succeed financially without a deeper meaning of how to multiply numbers and calculate percentages. But in a world of laptops and instant access to calculators, is geometry or trigonometry still relevant to the average student?
How does a 12-year old make the leap from sitting at a desk listening to the drone of her teacher explaining how to use sine and cosine and tangent with her ability to click on the screen of her tablet
and see instant activity in the comfort of her own home? And to be honest, if she were really interested, she could click on “trigonometry” and discover a world of colorful and animated explanations of the very same terms right at her fingertips.
In short, old fashioned school settings have become antiquated and obsolete and seem to be pushing most students away from learning the basic subjects still deemed mandatory. There are, of course, some academic institutions that have caught on to this necessary gear shift and have revised their curriculum accordingly so as to incorporate more interactive and hands on instruction.
Not Only for Bright Students
But mostly this adjustment has been made by educational facilities that cater to higher functioning students who already have a greater ability to focus and learn. It leaves out the average student who with some extra motivation and enthusiasm could turn out to be as quick and bright as her ‘gifted’ peer. By continuing to employ outmoded teaching methods, we are filtering out potential math mavens and
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.
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Cina Coren is a contributing editor FX Academy and a freelance writer for financial and educational publications. A particular interest of hers is exploring the ideas that new teaching approaches are needed for math and science