I love Mathematics since I was a child. I just wonder why I did not major in Math. I did not even consider it to be one of my choices.
I used to be good in Math except for Geometry and Trigonometry. I remember the times that I was competing with my classmates in elementary in terms of scores in quizzes and exams. There were times that I topped the tests.
When I was in College, my Math 2 was Probability and Statistics. I had to take it at 7:00 to 8:30 P.M. after my three-hour soccer training. I enjoyed the class, and my professor gave me the highest grade. That was one of my highest grades in college, and that was the subject that I really liked not because of my grade, but because I really learned in that subject.
Now that I am teaching, I am thrilled that the present generation have various feelings towards Math. Some students express negativity on the subject. That is why I decided to teach “Arithmetic” by Carl Sandburg for our literature discussion.
I began the session by asking “What comes to your mind whenever you hear the word ‘Math’?” I experienced not just the usual probing question-and-answer situation because the students were really honest about how they really felt and thought about math.
CHALLENGE. PROBLEMS. DOOMSDAY. HARD. DIFFICULT TO ANSWER.
The enthusiasm to express how they felt about Math really melt my heart, so I became eager to make the lesson respond to their sentiments in a positive strand. Of course, not everyone has negative feelings towards Math, and that was very helpful for me as I gather generalizations afterwards.
Next, I gave a mind-boggling brain teaser tests. While taking the tests, I have been hearing students growling and shouting. A few students were complaining because they were clueless about the answers. I even challenged them that those who will get 11 to 15 are actually genius and those who will get 6 to 10 are actually smart. I made a comic remark that those who will get 1 to 5 will be called “Don’t ask.”
Taking the test was misery for most of the students, but when we finally answered and analyzed how to answer each item, everyone was enlightened and experienced a “Eureka effect.”
I asked the students how they felt answering difficult questions, and they shared the same sentiments that they shared earlier. That moment was the perfect time to introduce the poem.
The entire class read the poem, and I was tickled as I witnessed my students laugh in every line that they were able to relate. Humor and hyperbole were very effective tools that were used by the writer to deliver a strong point.
After reading the poem, I asked some students to pick out a line that they found the funniest and I told them to explain how they were able to relate.
The fun became more intense as I asked them to define “arithmetic” based on their own experience. I even asked my students to recall a particular moment that they will never forget in their Math class. Surprisingly, one student disclosed that she was locked in a comfort room when she failed to recite the Multiplication Table.
To wrap up our discussion, I asked some students to identify the importance of Mathematics in our every day life. We went back to our concept map about Math and I asked the students to reflect if they would have the same feelings after our discussion.
I ended the session by using the One-Hundred-Peso-bill illustration. I asked students who would like to have my bill. Many students raised their hands. Then I crumpled the bill and stomped my foot on it. I asked them again whether they still want it or not. As I expected, the same people would still want it. I impressed on them that no matter how many mistakes and failures they had in math–like the bill–they still have the value that they possess. Failures and mistakes do not disqualify us to succeed. They should be our guide, so they should not define us.
Convincing people is really a very difficult task. Being a teacher is harder.