Math is a se­ries of in­ter­de­pen­dent steps

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Math prob­lems in schools

Learn­ing math is a se­ries of steps where one step is of­ten built upon the other.

For ex­am­ple, a child can­not learn to add un­less it has mem­o­rized the num­ber sys­tem. Adding must be un­der­stood in order to be able to learn sub­trac­tion. Adding and sub­trac­tion must be un­der­stood in order to grasp mul­ti­pli­ca­tion. Un­der­stand­ing mul­ti­pli­ca­tion equips the stu­dent to learn di­vi­sion, and so on.

If a stu­dent is pushed or per­mit­ted to move to the next step with­out hav­ing fully grasped the pre­ced­ing one, the re­quired build­ing block is miss­ing. With­out it, the stu­dent lags, un­able to grasp sub­se­quent steps. These miss­ing steps can build into a big pile that ap­pears in­sur­mount­able to the stu­dent and teach­ers. The con­fused stu­dents then con­clude they are no good at math, when the ac­tual prob­lem was caused by sim­ply miss­ing one step, which was needed for learn­ing the next steps. Michael Hahn, Beamsville

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