The Causes of Poor Math Education

Research shows that an emphasis on memorization, rote procedures and speed impairs learning and achievement.

American schools routinely present mathematics procedurally, as sets of steps to memorize and apply in order to pass tests.

Many teachers, faced with long lists of content to cover to satisfy state and federal requirements, worry that students do not have enough time to explore math topics in depth. Few have the opportunity to stay current with what research shows about how kids learn math best: as an open, conceptual, inquiry-based subject.

In the United States, there is a trend towards greater test-based accountability for students and teachers.

Test results put students’ grades and teachers jobs and income at stake. This causes many teachers to “teach to the test” which results in teaching procedures that emphasize applying arithmetical skills to information embedded in test questions.

Since the usual math tests do Not assess a student’s creatively or ability to logically search for understanding to solve problems, many students are not motivated to learn how to think creatively and logically like mathematicians.

Many teachers feel they have a lot of material to cover and must press on with the lessons in their plan, instead of helping their students understand the concepts.

In the short run teachers may achieve good test results by teaching the procedures that are being tested, but they Not helping students learn the thinking processes that make the math so valuable in understanding how reality works.

When students don’t understand the concepts that make the procedures work, then facts and procedures are easily forgotten, as they have no intrinsic meaning.

It’s not fun to just regurgitate arbitrary, abstract, pointless, unreal, anxiety producing math procedures.

Discovering ideas and insights is fun.

Blended learning, with computerized lessons and assessments with teacher interaction, can be helpful in identifying concepts that are misunderstood and need to be addressed by teachers. However, software that understands how people think and uses that information to help them think better is Not fully developed.

If misunderstood concepts are not addressed by software and teachers, students will have difficulty grasping lessons that are built upon misunderstood concepts, which can lead to a waterfall of frustration, misunderstanding and unhappiness that is often expressed as: “I’m no good at math.”

That statement is an indication of math problems that may either be Math Anxiety or Dyscalculia.