Problems in school math education

Some problems in school Mathematics education

  1. A majority of children have a sense of fear and failure regarding Mathematics. Hence, they give up early on, and drop out of serious mathematical learning.
  2. The curriculum is disappointing not only to this non-participating majority, but also to the talented minority by offering them no challenges.
  3. Problems, exercises and methods of evaluation are mechanical and repetitive, with too much emphasis on computation. Areas of Mathematics such as spatial thinking are not developed enough in the curriculum.
  4. Teachers lack confidence, preparation and support.

Arithmetic is the most useful and omnipresent part of math and expectedly, since the beginning of math education in schools, it occupied the centrestage. However, like the major changes observed in all spheres of life and all domains of knowledge, math is also calling for a subtle shift. The ubiquitous rise of computational power, from generic to specific (e.g., statistical tools), has reduced the daily-life applications of math, as we know it; good knowledge of arithmetic is not as valuable as it used to be.

However, what math is still valuable in daily-life is the ‘mathematical thinking’, the logical thinking and reasoning ability that helps in stating any situation in mathematical terms. For instance, to express the taxi fare in terms of base fare and per-km ride fare, mathematical expression is the best option. In fact, many situations are best expressed mathematically, rather than in a language we normally speak in.

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