Have you ever tried learning mathematics by heart or memorizing a wide range of mathematical information? Though the course of action is tough-going, the outcome might be good and even fabulous. This process of learning by heart may suit basic mathematics education or knowledge-based subjects, like, history. However, does this process suits learning at a higher amount of education?
As mentioned, when the maths a level past papers education is at elementary level, the total amount of facts to understand with may not be big enough to warrant attention and concern. With the good results so it sometimes shows, the approach of learning by heart can even be accepted. But is that the correct or suitable way forward in mathematics education? For mathematics learning at the higher education level, given more complex concepts and mathematical expressions, memorizing information and numerous steps develop into a challenging chore. The performance of several students of mathematics, who practiced the learning-by-heart method, has been proven to suffer drastically. This causes them to fear mathematics lessons and led them into the undesirable mathematics anxiety situation. Their confidence over solving mathematics questions declined as a result. Mathematics at a higher level requires a mixture of mathematical solving tools and detailed analysis of the solving strategy. Selection of an appropriate tools and its associated strategy to solving a given mathematics question cannot be accomplished through memorizing as the combination is too wide to cover. Learning at that education level, therefore, takes on an alternative platform.
An improved platform to learning mathematics is to comprehend mathematical concepts in place of placing facts as the focal point. Learn and focus on the why of the solving approach as opposed to the how, although both complement each other. This is a generic approach whereby practice can start from day one of mathematics lesson. The habit formed to comprehend mathematical concepts is going to do them good when advanced mathematics makes the educational picture. Mathematics is just a special subject that differs from the remaining portion of the knowledge-based subjects because its language is embedded in its mathematical variables, expressions and equations. There may be many twists and turns in asking an easy mathematics question. Without understanding the underlying concepts of the mathematics topic, it will be difficult to go forward or solve the mathematics questions, unless applying the dreadful memorizing approach.
Learning, especially in mathematics, can best be obtained by linking mathematical facts with thinking skill where conceptualization is section of it. The linkages formed will be strengthened with time with many mathematics practices. The capability to solve any mathematics problems at any given time is therefore a genuine reflection of one's ability to deal with mathematics. Learning mathematics by heart will not achieve this target as memory fades as time passes and quantity. Retention of knowledge goes hand in hand with the depth of understanding.
Albert Einstein once said "Education is what remains after you have forgotten everything he learned in school." Learning through linkage of mathematical facts with concepts will remain for a long time since true understanding is achieved. Purely memorizing facts, which includes negative impact, causes this is of mathematics education to be lost when one forgets the data learned.
Therefore, in summary, learning mathematics is most beneficial taken with focus in concept understanding set alongside the pure rigid means of memorizing mathematical facts, since the outcome will last longer with true comprehension of mathematics and its applications. Foster a habit to approach mathematics lessons and tutorials through understanding the concepts involved as opposed to the numerical facts and specific steps in virtually any given mathematics examples. This habit formed will ease acceptance of complex mathematical concepts down the road in higher amount of mathematics education.
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Lim EeHai has strong interest in mathematics education and has set up this mathematics site http://mathsisinteresting.blogspot.com to benefit anyone interested in the teaching and learning of mathematics.