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How to Get Students to Love Math

How can children learn to embrace math? Jo Boaler, a former mathematics professor at Stanford University, offers advice to busy parents and teachers in her book What's Math Got to Do with It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject.
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Updated on: September 23, 2009
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Taking a Different Approach

Unfortunately, many children start to dislike mathematics when introduced to it in a school setting. Boaler believes this is because children are made to feel inadequate in classrooms.

"If children hate math, the most important task is to show them a different math – the real math that is out there in the world and is exciting and varied," Boaler advises. "My book shows this by describing the math of the world that is nothing like the drill and practice of school."

Try out new ideas in your classroom, to prevent students from becoming bored or frustrated:

  • Give children interesting patterns and problems to do at home.
  • Play games that get children to think logically and spatially.
  • Inquire and guide students in their thinking. Even if the answer is wrong, help them see how their thinking is correct in some ways, and help them learn ways to improve their thought processes.

"There are some really good TV shows that give a much more exciting side of math, such as N3MBERS – and games such as Sudoku, and chess," she adds.

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