1. Most students wonder whether maths is real or just a torturing spirit of the air whose form or goal can neither be “seen” nor understood. Sometimes they understand a bit of it but most of the time they wonder what it is really all about.
2. But the worst cases are those who have psychologically accepted that in them maths is dead and buried. This group also believes that nothing can be woken up from within to change their attitude towards maths.
3. Our message today is that if you are one of such students you are very mistaken. There is no magic to understanding maths or to unlocking its doors than overcoming your anxiety or hatred for the subject. You might have been led astray by your beliefs, convictions and perhaps backgrounds. But the good news is that you can come to love maths like many others who eventually shed their togas of unbelief through our schools, Mason College and PASS Tutorial College both in Festac.
4. Each of you must understand that God planted maths in everyone. There is no one with a special maths mind or brain. It is your attitudes and beliefs that determine performance. Each human being is a mathematical end-product of the almighty God. Nothing shows this more than when the left-hand side of our bodies is compared to the right-hand side and you get an exact match. Every hair, vein, artery or muscle in our bodies including all the cells are mathematically numbered and programmed by God. Maths is therefore not a spirit and definitely not as far away from you as you think.
5. There is maths every where around you even in your rooms, kitchens, toilets, beds, and television. The balls you play and the plates you use to eat food are all based on maths. As long as you have a cylindrical, spherical, cubical, or any object of any shape you are directly or indirectly using objects made or produced through maths. And there is none of them you cannot calculate its length, radius, circumference, arc, area or volume by the use of a simple string or meter rule.
B. BE PREPARED TO FORGIVE TUTORS WHO ARE/WERE NOT HELPFUL TO YOU
6. Lack of good teachers might also have killed enthusiasm for minimum effort on the part of many students. And in others the gates to maths understanding were closed and padlocked by tutors’ attitudes and teaching methods. The classrooms of such tutors are usually torture chambers during maths periods. And today you still remember how much relieved you usually are when maths periods are over. But do you know that there is no need for such antagonism? Are you aware that your relationship with maths was not supposed to be that bad?
7. Are you aware the write-up titled “84 Steps To Maths Heaven” was purposely written to help improve your attitude towards maths in case your teachers failed to deliever? Please allow us suggest you forgive such teachers as their mistakes are usually that of omission and not commission?
C. SCHOOLS ALSO HAVE MANY CLOSE AND PERSONAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO MAKE
8. In Mason College, weak maths students had to go through at least 2 of 4 maths remedial programs depending on individual performances,evaluations and categorization. These programmes were called MATHS CLINIC, MATHS CONTINUOUS EXERCISES, MATHS FOUNDATION CLASSES and MATHS PRACTICALS. Edupedia shall be willing to be consulted on these for implementation in schools.
9. Students tend to think maths is made up of calculations only.That is far from the truth. A good school can direct the minds of its students to more humane maths-related activities such as MATHS POETRY/SONGS, MATHS ESSAYS, MATHS DEBATES, MATHS DIALOGUE, MATHS RADIO, MATHS LOGIC GAMES, MATHS PUZZLES, WORD PROBLEMS, QUICK MATHS, KITCHEN MATHS, ROAD MATHS, MONEY MATHS, BUSINESS MATHS, MATHS NEWS, MATHS MILESTONES and a host of other related activities to take the anxiety out of learning and applying maths practically to life.. The aim must be to instill confidence in students by proving that maths is just a series of very simple steps from every day living and that it is not a ghost.
D. INTRODUCTION TO “84 STEPS TO MATHS HEAVEN”
This is a write-up divided into 84 paragraphs and 6 appendices. Its proposals are as follows:
BRANCHES OF MATHEMATICS
10. That to understand Maths each student should know its branches. Maths is said to have 7 divisions namely: Arithmetic, Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry, Probability, Statistics and Structure. But it is easier for a Nigerian student to think of Maths as a country with 7 states with each having a set of rules and regulations to be studied and remembered by the student. This is because class work, home assignments and examination questions can be easily recognized for appropriate solution methods. On the other hand our students can imagine Maths as a house with seven bedrooms which are interconnected.
CONCEPTS OF MATHEMATICS
11. That to understand Maths each student must remember that Maths is a language like French whose words and meanings hold the key to the house referred to above. Maths concepts must be studied and interpreted like Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa or any second language. Unfortunately, because its concepts are in English, many students tend to think they know what these concepts are. What many fail to realize is that Maths concepts are the engines for setting Maths questions and that the importance of being well-grounded in these concepts can never be overemphasized. Concepts constitute a vocabulary whose meanings must be continuously checked to understand Maths.
12. That to truly understand Maths there is no better way than through imagination and logic.You also need to visualize Maths problems with your 3rd eye (your mind) before you can solve them.
FORMULAE,HINTS,SIGNS,NOTATIONS AND SYMBOLS
13 That you need to get used to Maths formulae, hints, signs, notations and symbols and
other common sense facts relating to Maths (see detailed notes in the “84-steps” write-up)
14. Read the next Maths topic before your class Maths lectures.
15. When writing class notes or answering questions write one step below the other rather to the left than to the right of the page of your notebook.
16. Always work as many problems as possible at the end of each chapter in your textbook. This is what Maths continuous practice is all about. Unfortunately this seems to be the only emphasis by most tutors.
17. Obey all Maths etiquette when practicing solutions.
18. If a problem cannot be solved immediately during class lectures or studies, don’t be discouraged. Read later or re-read your text book or read another one for more ideas. And then re-attempt its solution.
We have just launched the first missile on your fear of Maths…We shall continue under “84 steps to maths heaven”
Acknowledgement for this and subsequent posts under “84 steps to WAEC Maths Heaven
1. Students’ Dictionary of Mathematics by B.O. Soyemi (Educare Foundation)
2. Mr O. Owolabi (ex-Maths Tutor, Mason College Festac)