Maybe the cause of your math struggles is not you but the way math is taught? More and more math teachers are implementing new teaching approaches that include more visual and creative exercises as well as discussions of ideas rather than a focusing on memorization and speed.
David Foster of the Silicon Valley Mathematics Initiative offers training and resources for teachers that advocates a more positive approach to get kids to love learning. Foster has based his classes on the work of psychology professor Carol Dweck and education professor Jo Boaler, whose approaches to teaching math are spreading quickly. Dweck has found that failure helps students to learn, grow and get better. She urges that math education focus on helping students persevere even if they do not succeed at first.
Boaler offered a free online math course last summer that attracted 85,000 people. Her approach involves less memorization; instead, lessons focus on different ways to solve problems, individualized approaches, small-group discussion and real-life applications of math. Also feeding the teaching revolution is an explosion of online math lessons replacing lectures and one-size-fits-all textbooks.
Teachers say that bad classroom experiences with math have led to math failure. Just 36 percent of U.S. eighth-graders score at their grade level on national math tests.
To underline the importance of effort, the Khan Academy?? an educational organization that provides free education through video lectures on YouTube ??has launched a math contest that recognizes not just mastery, but effort as well. The LearnStorm challenge posts weekly scores and has attracted 41,000 students from the Bay Area.
Teachers and students say that relating math to everyday problem-solving and daily life is also important because it makes it meaningful to students. Not many students have a math disability but many may struggle in math because of the way they have been treated.