Empowering Minds: Making Mathematics Accessible and Enjoyable for All

Explore the beauty of mathematics with ‘Mathematics for Everyone,’ Montana unveils the joy and accessibility of numbers as a foundational element of life.

Illustration by Elham Ghaedi

The article is informative and addresses a unique perspective by framing mathematics as an enjoyable and essential life skill.

The mathematical subject has been a daunting mountain that children have feared climbing for centuries. Its symbolic language has always been considered ‘too tough’ or difficult for any ‘normal’ young student to understand, merely mumbled numbers and lines of gibberish equations. But it is not just that to every soul, because to some, mathematics is written poetry of extraordinary shapes, structures, and patterns.

To master the subject is to be crowned a master of critical thinking, problem-solving, and logical reasoning. The skill is helpful in enabling not only young children but also adults to explore and uncover new ideas or concepts, leaving one searching for the right solution. However, quality education remains inaccessible for those limited by the cruelty of poverty, lack of facilities, inadequate resources, etc.

By investing in the interest of accessible education is to enable children’s rights to quality teachers and facilities. These primary needs are often considered the responsibility of the local government but could also include the help of private education institutions or individuals who can work together to make mathematical education more accessible. And yet, the availability of technology and the internet has enabled those curious souls. Everyone can access online resources specifically designed and tailored to their strengths and weaknesses, aiming to improve at their own pace and understanding level. Children are more capable at learning when it is at their own pace and terms, free from the pressure of expectations. Even with this safety, the internet does not bear the responsibility of maintaining the learner’s interest in the mathematics subject.

Studying should never be advertised or considered as a chore, it should be made out to be an enjoyable process and experience which stimulates the mind, encourages curiosity, and matures unique thinking. When it is made out to be a chore, it hinders students’ engagement with their teachers or the material, increasing their frustration as they fall behind, which can lead to a pattern of failure.

If the material is found to be enjoyable, then the audience is more likely to pay attention in class and more willing to ask or answer questions without shame. When you can teach a love for math, you’ll find your students pursuing such related hobbies, catch them reading articles about math, or discuss their goals of studying and going into a STEM related career path, such as astronomy or architecture.

Illustration by Liani Malherbe

With math teachers encourage support and the creation of a non-judgmental learning environment that brings a sense of safety to their students. They can create curiosity and eagerness to learn by providing mathematical skill-advancing board games, puzzles, or friendly class competitions. For example, instead of droning on about the theory of probability and percentiles, rather start a friendly gamble with a game of ‘What are the odds,’ a version of truth or dare.

This outlook is what makes Pi Day such an ideal model for math appreciation; Pi Day is a day off from usual routine school work, where kids bring along round-shaped foods to school to examine and discuss fractions, area and volume, all while enjoying their special snack. Children should be afforded this playful freedom to practice their skills, as these are, in fact, essential daily life skill. Humans use math all the time, from Children to Elders, from cooking or calculating the right angle to approach a parking spot, to playing an online quiz to get you and your significant others percentage compatibility or sharing a snack into two completely even halves.

“Mathematics for everyone” is not just a slogan, it is a subject equally interesting and foundational to life as we know it. Math is not just there for scientific and technological advancements; therefore, everyone should have an equal opportunity to study it, regardless of social, economic, or cultural background.

Montana Matthews

Bsc Mathematics (3rd Year), Stellenbosch University

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