Last weekend, The Bridge hosted a STEM Super Fun Saturday event that included engaging students ages 5 – 16 in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The students had a blast conducting science experiments and building engineering structures, but when it came time for the Math Smarts Competition, the only thing I heard was “I hate Math- it’s too hard!” Does this sound familiar? A rising number of our children in the United States have decided that math is their least favorite subject and would rather clean the house before working out math problems. Sadly, I am sure some of you feel the same way. You too would say give me the broom and put the math book away! Where does this attitude and stigma around math come from? Most research says it starts at home! Parents, teachers, and role models we must be careful what we say when it comes to our own negative thoughts and comments around the subject of math. We have heard it time and time again and mostly likely you heard it from someone in your family, statements such as: “I wasn’t good at math so you must take after me” or “Math is just not my thing.”
There are several of us who can attest to some horror stories around math when we were growing up, and the discipline it took to keep those math grades up, but let’s face it: math is an essential part of life and everything we do is somehow connected to it. I was no math whiz myself while in school, but I definitely understand the importance and emphasis that must be put on math education for our students to be successful. Math has an image problem that needs some work and it is up to us to change the way our children think about the subject. I challenge each of you to drop the math negatives and accentuate the positives (no puns intended) to broaden our children’s understanding of how math impacts every moment of their lives. The earlier you start, the more equipped they will be for life. I think back to that million-dollar question “When will I ever use this stuff?” Surprisingly, now, more than we ever thought we would.
When you buy a car, follow a recipe, decorate or remodel your home, go to the bank, start a wellness program, balance your checkbook, figure out the best deal when grocery shopping, purchase and calculate gas mileage on your car , prepare a household budget, estimate time and distance when traveling, price match and redeem coupons, and of course reviewing your paycheck, you are using math!
Remember: “The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.” ~S. Gudder
Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”