April marks the start of Mathematics Awareness month, the very idea of which I’m sure sends a shiver down the spine of many people. Thoughts of long, intense maths classes where you’d be expected to recite (or worse, understand!) Pythagoras’ theorem; determine the probability of a specific outcome, compared to all possible outcomes; or worse still, find the value of ‘X’ in a quadratic equation. On the whiteboard. In front of the whole class! *shudders*.
In all honesty though, I actually really liked maths at school, but I’m aware that I’m very much the exception and not the rule in this scenario. Most of my friends absolutely hated it, and when I mentioned it to the other Mangos here, they feel the same way.
In my opinion, having a good understanding of maths is almost as important as being able to read, its right up there in terms of valuable life skills. While I’m sure we all sat in class wondering when we’d ever have to find the value of ‘X’ in the ‘real world’, the truth is, we probably use it more than we realise. For example, you can use quadratic equations to work out how much our salary would be reduced by if we were to miss a day at work. Or you could use them to determine the square footage of a room, which is very important before you go and order a new carpet that’s cut to measure.
And expanding this knowledge even further is also important. It’s widely known that the advances in and applications of the mathematical sciences have become drivers of innovation as new systems and methodologies have become more complex. As mathematics drives innovation, it also drives careers.
When I was at secondary school, the general consensus was that unless you grasped an understanding of maths in primary school, you’d never have the foundations in place to build on that knowledge and become ‘good at maths’. That damaging idea made many of my friends reluctant to even try when it came to maths in secondary. Thankfully, however, last year, The Guardian published a research-based article which stated that ‘older teenagers and young adults are able to improve their fundamental maths skills and reasoning abilities more rapidly than younger teens’. The research, published by academics from University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, overturns the longstanding assumptions about children’s learning.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on maths – do you love it, hate it or think it could be taught differently for greater impact? We’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to share the details with us on Twitter @Mango_Marketing