Mathematics education

Limitations of the Schooling System and Benefits of Individualised Tuition to Mathematics Education

Many students start to feel the crunch in the later years of high or secondary school. Many find the subject so intimidating that they feel unable or unwilling to progress any further. At least some of this difficulty can be attributed to the prevalent methods of instruction and attitudes that’s practiced in most schools today.

More so than for any other academic subject, more emphasis should be placed on ‘training’ rather on ‘teaching’. In this regard, maths is more like music or sport – a skill that’s developed through action than study, although reading, watching and listening has its place. The long term objective of training is to develop an ability to analyze and learn independently. With the right tools and attitudes, students will learn to overcome obstacles and difficulties in the learning process.

Although students may have memorized numerous formulas and results, many do not quite understand what their implications are. Rote repetition is good practice, but it isn’t a substitute for critical thinking. In traditional classrooms across the world, teachers simply repeat the main results in textbooks, assign exercises, then expect students to figure out the rest.

Of course, self-discovery is an important aspect of learning, but perhaps more attention should be given to skills development and problem-solving techniques, so that students will be better-able to solve problems independently. These may include standard algebraic tricks, experimentation, using visual and graphical methods. More time should be spent on how to interpret expressions and equations and how to read and write mathematics in a clear, concise manner.

Once students have developed thinking skills and problem-solving techniques, they will also be able to pick up new topics and concepts with relative ease. These are the keys to developing confidence and enthusiasm. Many students at schools today have not been specifically trained and assessed in this regard. As a result, their self-confidence is low and mathematics becomes frustrating.

It’s productivity that really counts, not just the absolute number of hours spent on study. Here I define productivity as the student’s ability to absorb new topics and ideas, It’s hard to see how large classrooms could possibly offer high productivity to students, especially when it comes to maths.

Each student has their strengths and weaknesses, so imposing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach is ineffective. Regardless of whether students have mastered a skill or not, the classroom lesson continues on, leaving some students in the dark. At the same time, students with more gifted abilities would not have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Individualized and tailored tuition is a direct and targeted approach that helps to bridge any gaps in the student’s understanding of the subject. By identifying specific areas of weaknesses, relevant drills and exercises can be prescribed to address any deficiencies and problems.

Preparation for existing standardized international examinations (GCSE, A-Levels, IB, SAT) can be accomplished in one year, instead of the two years practiced in many schools today. With personalized attention, productivity increases significantly so ideas can be communicated and absorbed more efficiently.

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