When students are asked about what their favorite subjects are, the answers are identical almost every time; english, history, P.E., and the classic and witty ‘lunch’ reply. It’s common for students to be enthusiastic about how interesting their history class is, or boast about their grade in their English class. However, math seems to be excluded from the list of favorites more often than it is included, and people don’t often talk about how interesting their math lesson was. Students may never learn to love math, but the key to getting students to accept math is not within the subject, but within the teacher.
As reported by Oxford Learning, students see math as “abstract and irrelevant figures that are difficult to understand.” This isn’t improved by having a difficult and strict teacher, that may cause students to shutdown and refuse to allow themselves to do the work math requires. Collin Philips, a student who very clearly dislikes math, says that if teachers spent more time explaining steps and didn’t rush an answer, he’d be more willing to think positively on math. The question is not whether or not math is a dislikable subject in its self, but rather that its a difficult subject to teach while keeping students comfortable enough to be wrong.
According to Integrated Math 2 teacher Mrs. Campbell, who is no stranger to having students who hate math, teenagers don’t like to feel “stupid” and math is challenging enough to discourage them. Not only that, but because math requires a lot work and even if you follow all the right steps, you may not find out that a question is wrong until the very end. Campbell believes the key to enjoying math is to understand that your teacher supports you and is there to help. There is no such thing as being “stupid” in a class where you’re learning a concept for the first time.
But, building a respectful relationship between yourself and your teacher is a 50/50 responsibility. If you find yourself struggling in math, ask yourself if you are a disruption in class, or if you’re putting in the work that is required. And if teachers put in the same work to make sure their students feel comfortable to come to them with their concerns, the distaste surrounding math will be gone. Math may never be your favorite subject, but if you allow yourself to learn and become comfortable with asking your teacher for help, you may make your experience more enjoyable.