-By Vanshika Paharia
“In a world where everything involves math, from your tangled earphones to the strands of hair on your head- you can love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore it.”-Someone who herself hated math always
But the terrible fact is that 24% students hate math and 30% are indifferent to it. In today’s date, your profession doesn’t matter. Math is a must and knowing mathematical and statistical concepts is a requisite. From integration and how to derivate a formula or solving an equation through synthetic division- math is necessary. Yet, math is the most disliked subject.
What we never sit down to dissect – why is math passionately hated throughout the world? When mathematicians and the remaining 46% of the students are able to find magic in math, why can’t everyone? Hence, I decided to think and mull over this. And came up with a few interesting points. Now, I can’t make you love this subject in one day but I can certainly tell you how to fix this hatred for it. I think you will learn to love math later through our blogs as we progress with the year at MSCNM.
Why Do People Hate Mathematics and Statistics?
We can say, “I don’t like Maths and Stats. That’s it. No reason at all,” all we want. But that will not make it true. I am listing quite a few reasons here and trust me, one of them will be relatable.
1. Fear: Fear is a deadly feeling. And the fear of being wrong is even more catastrophic. Unlike English and creative writing, mathematics cannot have 5 different answers to everything. Only one answer is correct and the fear that you may get that answer wrong opens your mind to the prospect that you are not always correct and are imperfect.
That one wrong answer can haunt you. Especially if you know that seldom, if the answer goes wrong in an exam when it shouldn’t, it can make or break you. This fear gets turned into deflection, which turns into hate later. It is very important to remember that wrong answers are not a bad thing and they don’t mean you are not worthy. We will come to the solution for this later. This is the biggest problem you can face with math.
2. Conceptual Issues: In our life, we had that one moment when a teacher was teaching a math concept and our attention got diverted. Or maybe that teacher was just not that good. I get it, her fault. But later, it was your fault for not revisiting the concept when you missed it out.
Such concepts find place in bigger and more important math sums. And when we try these math sums and are not able to solve them, we panic and avoid. Eventually, we hate it. The trick is to do a root cause analysis there itself and go back to revisiting the concept. More on this later.
3. Laziness: Innate laziness in every person makes them to not want to solve sums unless they have a calculator on stand by. This is a problem because unless you take efforts to solve sums, you will never like them. Solving sums requires presence of mind and proactiveness, and thus a lack of it can result in sums going wrong. You will soon find yourself in a loop of laziness and a fear of going wrong.
4. Boredom: Most people, while studying math, don’t relate it to the outside world. They do not understand the applications of math, leading to boredom. All they see is numbers and not what the numbers can do. This can also be termed as lack of connection and relatability.
5. Lack of Simplicity: What most teachers, books and articles don’t do is simplify math. They say the same thing in such a twisted way that none can understand. “The summing of infinite numbers between 2 numbers through a certain equation” – sounds easy right? It is nothing but integration. One of the “toughest” to grasp concepts. It all depends on the material you are reading and trying to understand. If you deep dive into the blue cheese, it will always taste bad. Try the normal cheese first, study math in simple words first.
6. Incapability to Remember: Maths and Stats use a lot of rules and formulae. Remembering them is important and most people cannot do this due to lack of presence of mind. This is also directly related to messed up concepts. Mugging up does not work in maths, concepts do.
7. Lack of Practice: Lack of practice is honestly the worst. You may not know this but lack of practice is the causation of all the other 6 reasons. It is deadly and thus, all the other 6 problems must be fixed immediately. The other 6 are a root cause of this problem.
I know the problem now. How to fix it?
The effectiveness of this solution will depend on your perseverance and mental strength. Your will to make amends and to learn plays a huge role. Do these and I assure you, 95% of the times it works for willing and hardworking people.
1. Eliminate the Fear: Mathematics involves making a lot of mistakes and making mistakes is scary. But it is a part of learning. This is something you have to tell yourself every time a sum goes wrong. Your work is to try the sum again and work on your mistake. Someone told me, “Making a mistake in a sum is not wrong. But if I give you one more sum of the same type to try, you should be able to solve it. It is called learning from your mistakes.” Learn from your mistakes, review your errors and let them go. Also, accept that you are a normal human being and not Shakuntala Devi. I am sure even she made mistakes. Also, sums going wrong is due to less practice. Funny how lack of practice can find its place in fear too. Self pep talks, practice and learning is important.
2. Clear your Concepts: Cannot solve a sum or making an error? Go back, read and understand the concepts. Stop cutting corners and trying to solve sums without clearing your concepts. Cannot solve integration? It is because you don’t understand derivatives. Cannot understand derivatives either? Probably because you don’t understand what limits are. Perform a root cause analysis. Maybe even go through all basic concepts.
3. Stop being lazy: You cannot understand even the M of Math if you don’t want to try. Chuck the calculator and solve a few basic sums everyday. It will improve practice, will be fun, will reduce errors and will improve speed and thinking. At least, try some Logical Reasoning MCQs online.
4. Bye Boredom: Math is boring? Listen to music while solving Math. Will be less boring. Other than that, go understand the application of Math. Also, allow me to recommend you a few math based books and movies that will truly help you connect more-
- The Man Who Knew Infinity – Movie
- Shakuntala Devi – Movie
- The Imitation Game – Movie
- The Man Who Loved Only Numbers by Paul Hoffman – Book
- The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb- Book
- Pi – Movie
5. Simplify: Complicated math language- go search on the net for basic understanding. Or watch some comprehensive videos.
6. Incapability to remember– Practice more. Mugging up is not necessary. You will start remembering everything if you keep practicing. Even while solving sums or learning- presence of mind is required. Do not multitask.
7. Practice makes a man perfect– Fix the other 6 issues, I think 80% of your issues will disappear automatically. Take out time everyday just to practice mathematics.
“PrACTice like a Champion.”
Trust me, there is no running away from math. Every CA, law or political studies student thinks his or her stream is an escape from math. 5 years later, they find themselves preparing for some post graduate entrance which requires math skills. Also, no one is “not a math person”. Everyone was born a lump with no likes or dislikes. If you cannot run away from it, beat it. Over a course of the next few months, we will tell you why math is important, with an aim to increase your understanding of the subject.