The three Rs of reading writing and arithmetic are considered the cornerstones of any education system. It is believed that a grasp of these three equips one with the functional skills of literacy. But out of these three, the learning of numbers seems to inspire fear in a lot of students.
Maths fear is something that a lot of parents and educators come across. Many students suffer from “Maths anxiety”. It is defined as an “inconceivable dread of mathematics that can interfere with manipulating numbers and solving mathematical problems within a variety of everyday life and academic situations.” Numbers scare me; I am not just cut out to handle maths ; I am failing my maths exam; Fractions are hard; Why do we need to study integration?; are common laments heard by parents and teachers of adolescents. Maths has always been a subject that has overwhelmed and scared students. There are many theories put forward for this aversion to maths–the dry methods adopted in teaching maths, only a few have the ability to grasp it, a rigid curriculum, teacher in- adequacy, and much more.
There is almost a stereotypical approach to maths, which is that it is a difficult subject. It is true that some are better at certain subjects than others. But the important word here is “better”, it does not mean that others are bad. All are good at the subject, but some find maths more appealing than others. Another aspect is that numbers and mathematical problems and solutions are intervowen in every aspect of our lives, just as parents make reading enjoyable, maths should also form a part of the everyday storytelling of our lives.
If a student is able to handle other subjects than there is no way the same person cannot handle the dreaded maths. The most important aspect is to keep a positive attitude. Teachers in schools do their part and parents need to chip in too. Most parents take the easy way out by saying even we found it difficult, we cannot help them with their homework. Such an environment adds friction to the learning process.
A great way to overcome this avoidance and anxiety over maths is to take the help of tutors. Acknowledging that one needs help in overcoming the mental block against maths is the first step that both the students and parents can take. There is enough research available on the positive effect of tutoring on student achievement. A study found that placing tutors in high-needs schools in Chicago and Lawrence, Massachusetts, turned the tide for students. Students in Chicago, who were tutored intensively for one year, were able to gain two and a half years of math learning in a single year. In Lawrence, the schools that implemented tutoring rose from being the lowest-performing to the top 7 percent of all schools in Massachusetts state..
High quality individual tutoring can make a tremendous difference in a student’s performance. It has been found that a dedicated engaged teacher in school cannot be as effective as a tutor.
Parents should hire maths tutors or seek help for individual attention when a student noticeably falls behind the rest of the class. If a child fails to grasp a particular concept or method in class, it becomes difficult to keep up with later lessons. A teacher can extend only limited help after class.
A maths tutor can help by identifying the weaknesses of the child and take proactive steps to strengthen them. Getting individual attention encourages the child to ask for repeated explanations and set his own pace of learning away from a strict and rigid curriculum. Some students respond better to an out-of the-box approach to the teaching of numbers, which can be easily be provided by a tutor. Making maths a fun learning activity can unleash untapped potential . A teacher handling a class is handicapped by the sheer number of students, their diverse grasping capacities, and a need to follow the curriculum.
Tutoring helps boost confidence and can even act as a bridge between the school and parents. Generally, professional tutors are hired to help pass final exams or for improving grades in the final year. Tutors can also become great moral boosters and confidence enhancers for students going through exam pressure and stress. A simple “well done” for any assignment goes a long way in boosting confidence.
The standard education system being meted out in schools fails to cater to the needs of students needing the extra push and concerned parents are increasingly turning to alternative methods to help their children deal with a highly competitive global economy. According to a study undertaken by Global Industry Analysts, Inc. (GIA), a market research firm, the global private tutoring market is projected to surpass $102.8 billion by 2018. The GIA study further reveals that the United States, Europe, and Asia-Pacific (notably Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and China) are responsible for more than 90 percent of the global private tutoring market. India is also fast becoming a major player in this market.
|This article was contributed by fellow NYU students. If you would like to make a contribution to the NYU Dispatch, please email us.|