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Rekindling your relationship with Maths

In my previous blog, I chatted to those who used to love Maths in primary school or in earlier grades, but don’t like the subject anymore. I compared one’s relationship with Maths to a friendship – I do think there are a lot of similarities between these two relationships.

Now let’s take a look at a different scenario. Many learners declare that they’ve never liked Maths. They need to take the subject in order to be able to go to university, but they’ve always had a thorough dislike of Maths. Some even detest Maths.

To those of you who feel like this, I’d like to ask: Have you ever met someone whom you instantly disliked? Someone who you just instantly knew was one of those loud-mouthed, bossy, irritating types – no doubt about that. So you dislike this person from the very start and want nothing more to do with him or her.

Then time passes and every now and then you hear someone mentioning that this person was really nice or helpful or considerate. At first, you let out silent little snorts of indignation upon hearing such comments, but after a while you hesitantly start wondering whether you made up your mind too quickly. How did you know that this person would be bossy and irritating? Did he or she actually act that way, or did you simply decide that they would be like that? Then you finally decide to get to know this person by spending some time with him or her – and eventually you find that he or she is actually very nice and likeable.

The key to getting to know someone’s true nature is spending time with that person.

The same thing can happen with Maths. When you became acquainted with the subject for the very first time, you might have found it off-putting for a variety of reasons. Perhaps older learners told you that Maths was difficult, or perhaps you assumed it would be boring – or perhaps you had a nasty experience with a previous Maths teacher. Whatever the reason, something made you decide that Maths was not for you and that you would dislike the subject from the get-go.

Just think about it: Did you actually ever give Maths a fighting chance? I’m not talking about a day or even a week of focusing on Maths before an exam. Did you ever spend enough time on Maths to really get to know the subject well? Because only then can you tell if you really dislike Maths. Otherwise it might just be that you don’t like the idea of Maths. If you’ve never liked Maths, chances are that you’ve been spending as little time as possible on Maths. Think about people. If you spent almost no time with someone, can you really say that you know that person well enough to actually dislike him or her?

Also, when you’re getting to know someone, you won’t really know the person before you’ve experienced him or her in a variety of circumstances. It is the same with Maths. You won’t know what the subject is like unless you spend time on all the different aspects of Maths: Euclidean geometry, algebra, trigonometry, analytical geometry, etc.

I know this might seem daunting, especially at first. So let me offer you some ideas of where to start.

Firstly, start doing your homework every day. Ask your teacher or a friend for help if you’re struggling with any part of the work. Make sure that you don’t fall behind from now on.

Secondly, Maths 4 Africa has amazing study guides which offer just the right number of worked examples, summaries and tips. Everything you need to know is covered in these handy, learner-friendly guides. They make self-study quick, easy and painless – go see for yourself. Work through this book to make sure that you’re up to date with all the work the teacher has covered so far. Then go and practise this work some more until you feel comfortable doing it. You can use your school textbook or any other textbook for extra practice.

Thirdly, consider extra Maths classes if you feel you need a bit more help. Find someone who will also help you to enjoy Maths while helping you to master the work.

Just give Maths a fair chance. Build a real relationship with the subject – a friendship if you like – and find out what you two have to offer each other. You might just be surprised.