Not since Grade 3 have I enjoyed math so much. I remember writing out page after page of equations and being so thrilled when the teacher handed them back and they were all correct. Grade 3 was also the year I was introduced to multiplication. I remember being in Grade 2 and asking what that kind of math was that the older kids were doing. It looked so different from addition and subtraction, the answers were sometimes double digit numbers and they used an X instead of a plus or minus symbol. I recall too, the way the older children would count differently, “two four six eight“ they would chant. What happened to one, three, five and seven I would wonder. Was this a faster way to count to a million, and if so why did my kindergarten teacher not inform me of this more expeditious method. When I first arrived in Grade 3 my sole concern apart from playtime activities, I was only 8 after all, was when we were going to start multiplying. Multiplication was by far my favorite method of math, now I’m 34 and no longer have favorite methods of math or colour or animal, though pangolins are pretty cool. Eight year old me loved multiplication, learning it working on equations skip counting it was all magical and new.
I continued to enjoy math up until Grade 11, then it became tedious and difficult. My teacher did not help things that year either, not that it is all her fault, but she certainly played a part in my new disdain for mathematics. Which is why now that I am a teacher I try to make my lessons as fun as possible. As a result I am beginning to love math again. For the last several weeks I have been teaching a few of the upper primary students. I have a couple that are getting enriched, a couple that are getting up to speed and a few just getting some extra practice. Each Friday I meet with these students and we make math fun. I am not doing anything out of the ordinary, I am just helping them understand how to get the right answer. Like the me of the late 1980s they enjoy getting the correct answer. I turn some of the material into games to gain there enthusiasm or use their names in word problems to make it more personable but at the end of the day I am simply teaching them through explanation and plenty of repetition.
The thought of teaching math beyond addition and subtraction to anyone used to seem like a daunting task. After years of disliking it in high-school and University I thought my lack of enthusiasm for the subject would rub off on the students. This experience has proven my apprehensions foolish. Math’s precision makes it rewarding in a way language is not. I enjoy teaching English because it allows me to constantly learn about my mother tongue. However students new to English can find it frustrating and ambiguous. Math is universal. It follows strict rules that, regardless of language or anything else, are perpetual. Every one and anyone can get the correct answer in math with the correct method, the rules don’t change based on the numbers you use. 1+1 will always =2 and 8 will always be the square root of 64. However the addition of an s will not always make a word plural, and the article an does not only precede words that’s spelling start with vowels but a few who’s pronunciation do as well. Sometimes an precedes an s, but 4 will always be an even number. Precise results are a gift only mathematics provides. And who does not enjoy being right?