Through my years as an instructor, I have learned that students truly dread statistics. Even the most basic topics. Even the statistics topics that can be real useful in their career, and can give them concrete skills that can land them at better jobs.
I keep wondering, to no avail, what is that problem, or where is the problem. The answers exist, but I cannot tout them as “answers” as they are my personal opinions. But my answer/opinion is that we are really teaching math (and its derivatives, such as Statistics) really wrong. We are actually failing at conveying the beauty of this subject, and that is entirely our fault (meaning those who have the responsibility of teaching).
What is Being Done Wrongly in Math Education?
For one, I think we are still teaching with the wrong paradigms, with old paradigms. Math education hasn’t changed since Gauss, really. But the world has changed immensely, especially in the last 10 years. And there are indications that suggest that it will keep on changing even more in the next 10 years, at an even more rapid pace.
Our methods keep being strongly attached to the theoretical basis of Math, which certainly acts as a deterrent for students to form a proper level of appreciation. There must be other doors we can open to show the way in. There must be other routes that can show the beauty of math without necessarily showing the arid part right away.
Why Things Don’t Change
As math instructors we get lots of training about all sort of things, such as how to do an emergency escape in case of a fire or an earthquake. Or we get lots of training about policies and administrative procedures. And that is fine, because those are necessary. But, we don’t get training about how to make Math more accessible to students, or how to link Math to the exciting and technological world of today.
I’ll be hard pressed to think about one time of having been encouraged to give Math a more attractive face, by showing that kind of wonderful things that can be done with it, instead of how hard it is gain to mastery in it. Not that I haven’t tried to do it on my own, but it would be good to get institutional encouragement to give that little extra motivation to those instructors that may not know how to do it.
Math Is Everywhere
We need to make out students aware that Math is everywhere: It is in the internet they use, it is in the games they play, it is in the smartphones we use. I strongly feel that if we are successful at linking Math with the current technology that is available to everybody, there will be a much stronger motivation for kids to get into it.
For me the message is clear, that something needs to change in the way we teach Math. We better do it soon, because if we wait for too long, we will miss a wonderful opportunity.