It’s slowly becoming apparent that math education is failing our students across the country. This could be for any number of reasons- shorter school days, an overextended curriculum, fewer math teachers available to teach the material, the increasingly shorter attention span of students. The list goes on.
Out here where 60% of our high school students failed an exit exam with no fractions on it, we’re up against an interesting problem- a series of adopted curricula (YouTube video) that does little to address communicating actual math to our elementary students, leaving them ill-equipped to deal to a high school math program that leaves even experienced math teachers wondering.
Until a national math curriculum can be agreed upon and implemented, we have to figure out how to address this growing problem. Being weak in math is absolutely crippling. So much of what we do is based in math. Daily activities like shopping or cooking require some understanding of decimals and fractions. Many careers, especially those in any science, engineering, or business discipline, are heavily steeped in algebra and trigonometry.
Letting it go isn’t acceptable, but letting it stay in its current state is doing today’s students a disservice. These are kids who would much rather understand what they’re doing, despite their protests, than continue moving on to higher math levels because it will supposedly raise their self-esteem. I can tell you from experience, socially promoting these kids frustrates them. They know they were promoted to stay with their peers, and an unusually high number of them resent it because they know they don’t understand the new math they have to learn because they don’t understand what’s it’s built on.
What can we do? We can work to help these students become stronger in the basics. Even if all you do is get workbooks in various grade levels and help your student work through them, you’re giving them a much better chance at succeeding in math education. I’ve also recently started a math blog that tries to cover various topics to help students struggling with their homework (or parents struggling to help their students with their homework).
Do something. Take action. Your student will really appreciate it, even if they never say it out loud.