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**Faculty Forum / Improve Your Basic Mathematics**

« **on:**April 04, 2011, 12:10:01 PM »

Mathematics is a part of basic science as well as called the father of knowledge. We have received many requests for tips on how to improve Mathematics. In our competitive age, we have to face many difficulties in Math. In this first part, we will offer some tips on how to improve a subject that some love while others hate â€“ Mathematics.

Like all subjects, you cannot master Mathematics if you already hate it.

"But I really hate it!" some students may say.

To these students, we ask you, "How many days do you get by without using Mathematics in your lives?"

Each morning when you wake up, you look at your clock or watch to read the time. You probably learn how to read clocks from your Mathematics teacher in Primary 1 or 2.

You reach the bus stop and prepare your bus-fare. During recess time, you go to the canteen and pay for some food items. You probably learn how to count, add and subtract money from your Mathematics teacher in Primary 2 or 3.

Back in class, your teacher asks you to form groups of four to discuss some homework. You probably learn how to count from your Mathematics teacher in kindergarten or Primary 1.

We can go on and on, but you get the point. The point is that Mathematics is part of our life and there is no way you can run away from it. So if you do not like Mathematics, you will suffer.

Hey, the least you can do is learn to accept Mathematics. Like it or not, it is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools.

Some students may like Mathematics but have difficulties learning it. The problem may be because these students do not realise that Mathematics is not a dead subject. You cannot learn Mathematics simply by trying to memorise it. You have to understand the basic Mathematics concepts, "see the pattern", and apply them.

For example, if your Mathematics teacher has taught you that 4 + 4 = 8, then you must realise that $4 + $4 = $8, 4 kg + 4 kg = 8 kg, 4 cm + 4 cm = 8 cm, and so on so forth.

But thatâ€™s not all. Once you have understood the basic Mathematics concepts, you cannot just sit there and do nothing about it. You have to try Mathematics sums and problems, and as many as possible. Mathematics is a practice subject. The more you practice, the better you will be at it. This is especially true for the more difficult Mathematics topics, such as ratios, percentages and algebra.

Apart from that, you must also always try to solve the same type of Mathematics sums and problems using different approaches. For example, there are many ways to solve 39 + 4. You can either use the "count on" strategy, the "add the ones then add the tens" strategy, the "add 1 to 39 to make 40 and subtract 1 from 4" strategy, and more.

The more approaches you try to solve the same Mathematics sums and problems, the better your Mathematics problem-solving skills will be.

Sometimes, you may run into difficult Mathematics sums and problems. If you cannot solve them, always approach someone for help, such as your Mathematics teacher or tutor, and your classmates.

You can also get a good assessment book or guide book that offers plenty of worked examples. By learning from worked examples, you will begin to see the pattern in solving certain types of problem sums. Go through these worked examples carefully and understand how and why they are solved using the methods shown. Then try to solve the Mathematics problem on your own without looking at the method shown.

After that, try other similar Mathematics problems and see if you can also solve them using the same method. Where possible, find out if there are other ways of solving the same Mathematics problems too.

If you are already very good in Mathematics, then trying many more of the simple Mathematics sums and problems will not help you become better, nor will it be challenging for you. You should consider trying more difficult and challenging Mathematics problems that require more than just elementary Mathematics skills to solve. The pleasure of being able to solve a very difficult or challenging Mathematics problem is immeasurable and you can only understand how it feels like when you do that.

However, beware of books that claim to contain challenging problems when they actually do not.

So there you have it. The way to learn and master Mathematics is to like it, understand it, practice it and attempt challenging Mathematics problems!

In our next step we will discuss with some numerical examples.

Bimal Chandra Das

Senior Lecturer

TE Dept.

**1. If You Hate Mathematics, Donâ€™t!**Like all subjects, you cannot master Mathematics if you already hate it.

"But I really hate it!" some students may say.

To these students, we ask you, "How many days do you get by without using Mathematics in your lives?"

Each morning when you wake up, you look at your clock or watch to read the time. You probably learn how to read clocks from your Mathematics teacher in Primary 1 or 2.

You reach the bus stop and prepare your bus-fare. During recess time, you go to the canteen and pay for some food items. You probably learn how to count, add and subtract money from your Mathematics teacher in Primary 2 or 3.

Back in class, your teacher asks you to form groups of four to discuss some homework. You probably learn how to count from your Mathematics teacher in kindergarten or Primary 1.

We can go on and on, but you get the point. The point is that Mathematics is part of our life and there is no way you can run away from it. So if you do not like Mathematics, you will suffer.

Hey, the least you can do is learn to accept Mathematics. Like it or not, it is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary schools.

**2. Mathematics Is Not A Dead Subject!**

Some students may like Mathematics but have difficulties learning it. The problem may be because these students do not realise that Mathematics is not a dead subject. You cannot learn Mathematics simply by trying to memorise it. You have to understand the basic Mathematics concepts, "see the pattern", and apply them.

For example, if your Mathematics teacher has taught you that 4 + 4 = 8, then you must realise that $4 + $4 = $8, 4 kg + 4 kg = 8 kg, 4 cm + 4 cm = 8 cm, and so on so forth.

But thatâ€™s not all. Once you have understood the basic Mathematics concepts, you cannot just sit there and do nothing about it. You have to try Mathematics sums and problems, and as many as possible. Mathematics is a practice subject. The more you practice, the better you will be at it. This is especially true for the more difficult Mathematics topics, such as ratios, percentages and algebra.

Apart from that, you must also always try to solve the same type of Mathematics sums and problems using different approaches. For example, there are many ways to solve 39 + 4. You can either use the "count on" strategy, the "add the ones then add the tens" strategy, the "add 1 to 39 to make 40 and subtract 1 from 4" strategy, and more.

The more approaches you try to solve the same Mathematics sums and problems, the better your Mathematics problem-solving skills will be.

**3. Learn Mathematics By Examples!**Sometimes, you may run into difficult Mathematics sums and problems. If you cannot solve them, always approach someone for help, such as your Mathematics teacher or tutor, and your classmates.

You can also get a good assessment book or guide book that offers plenty of worked examples. By learning from worked examples, you will begin to see the pattern in solving certain types of problem sums. Go through these worked examples carefully and understand how and why they are solved using the methods shown. Then try to solve the Mathematics problem on your own without looking at the method shown.

After that, try other similar Mathematics problems and see if you can also solve them using the same method. Where possible, find out if there are other ways of solving the same Mathematics problems too.

**4. Try Challenging Mathematics Problems!**

If you are already very good in Mathematics, then trying many more of the simple Mathematics sums and problems will not help you become better, nor will it be challenging for you. You should consider trying more difficult and challenging Mathematics problems that require more than just elementary Mathematics skills to solve. The pleasure of being able to solve a very difficult or challenging Mathematics problem is immeasurable and you can only understand how it feels like when you do that.

However, beware of books that claim to contain challenging problems when they actually do not.

So there you have it. The way to learn and master Mathematics is to like it, understand it, practice it and attempt challenging Mathematics problems!

In our next step we will discuss with some numerical examples.

Bimal Chandra Das

Senior Lecturer

TE Dept.