How would you change it?

I think one of the main reason students get turned off by mathematics is that it is a *utilitarian tool* that is taugh like a *language*. I remeber being frustrated because a lot of concepts and definitions would be thrown at me and then the the teacher would do a bunch of examples which demonstrated those things but it all came out a like a recipe. This is bad because recipes are for specific use and are not adaptable to other applications.

What I would do is teach from a *utilitarian perspective* to begin with THEN tie things up with theory. First define the reason math is needed. First define the problem(example: we need instructions on how to draw a line… solution------->learn about basic functions) Second, derive the tools needed to solve the problem. This is less abstract in that the students can relate to what it is they are even doing. Not that there isn’t an attempt to teach mathematics this way, I just think teachers get lazy start dishing out the “recipes”. When that happens, students don’t progress to higher levels of mathematics very well because they really did not learn any math… just a bunch of instruction sets.

For myself a lot of math did not really “click” for me unitl I studied physics. That sums up my point.

In response to Mobius, pretty much what KMD said. In my mind, math is a very visual field that strangely, is not taught visually, and there is no context given for why it is important. Emphasis is placed in each course on learning say, 15-30 bigger concepts, but it’s delivered as if the student has already acclimated to the mathematical culture and precepts. As a result, 0-5 of those concepts are actually retained by the average student. Instead, put in effort to giving real-world, and maybe even humorous examples as to how mathematics can be applied to do cool things, make money, and generally be a rock star. More concrete, less abstract. Math teachers should spend time animating graphs to solidify concepts.

FANTASTIC example of this is at http://setosa.io/ev/eigenvectors-and-eigenvalues/. Note that Flash might be required to interact with animations. Without something like this, the whole concept of eigenvalues/vectors would be completely lost on perfectly capable people. If something like this can be animated, lesser concepts in basic algebra, calc, trig, geometry certainly can (http://setosa.io/pythagorean/).

Note, the Setosa website in general has awesome visually intuitive examples of many other things like this if interested.

I was terrible at math in school. Did not understand calculus in the slightest bit. Took a free course on it from MIT (the free online thing they have) and the prof was amazing and made a difficult topic seem simple. I think too many teachers/profs in america dont have a good enough grasp of the material and manage to turn simple things into difficult things. They start young with poor teaching of the topic and once kids tend to fear a topic they are turned off of it for life

+1 to KMD.

I took a pre-cal class in High School, and hated it. I had to memorize SOHCAHTOA, but had absolutely no idea what it meant (still don’t). I learned the terms sine, cosine, and tangent, but didn’t understand them. All I learned was that if you wanted to know the sine of 7, you pushed “sine 7” on the calculator and it gave you a number that you plugged into a formula that you didn’t understand.

Same thing happened when I took a hybrid algebra/calculus class in college. They spoke of “derivatives” and taught us how to use the slide rule (or something like that). I passed the class, but didn’t understand anything they were talking about.

It wasn’t until I started the CFA curriculum that I began to understand that the “first derivative” meant.

I often say that when people tell me that they’re terrible at math, the problem isn’t that they’re terrible at math, but that they’ve had terrible math teachers.

I try my best not to be a terrible math teacher.

Those that are good at math, don’t really need to be taught. Everyone remembers the dude that stared out the window during Calculus class, but aced the exams. I wonder what the difference is between him and the “I hate mathematics” types?

I think most people don’t know how to study to begin with, I took an elective accounting class last semester and found out most people couldn’t make conceptual images/processes to figure the way it worked. The problem is not only about mathematics which can be very abstract, but anything that requires people to think in slightly abstract way or to think in a whole different paradigm. Most people who suck at math , suck because they haven’t learned to think correctly IMO , at least at the undergraduate level. I honestly don’t think that any ethnicities lack the brain power to accomplish high level math courses at the undergraduate level, what they lack is their ability to focus and learn to think correctly. Of course making stupid snapchat photoes sounds more compelling than listening to a class lecture if you are brought up in a shit family ( which is more frequent in certain ethnic groups).

best math teacher i ever had was college algebra. it was such an enjoyable class

^ Didn’t you attend the Moscow institute of technology ? I heard a few people used to commit suicide annually there in the USSR glory days as a result of being stuck on a problem for too long and getting depressed.

I had this hot blonde teacher teach me how to FOIL

wait what college algebra? lol that was like 8th grade man