Everyone has their own experiences and opinions about mathematics.
Whether positive or negative, number study can sometimes seem a bit dull to many learners. But it shouldn't be that way. Nor is it!
These days, smart, mathematics-based technology is all around us, and you need a certain level of mathematical understanding to cope with it.
Some of the most interesting jobs you can do rely heavily on the ability to use functional and advanced maths. Among others, some of these careers include: becoming a doctor, nurse, vet, engineer, scientist and a software developer.
Putting the need for maths understanding to one side for a minute, we must also remember that mathematics isn't just about manipulating numbers, that is, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing them. Maths is also about patterns. Therefore, jobs in fashion and design can also benefit from maths skills and actually bring a whole new level of excitement to working with numbers and shapes.
Plus, consider the role of maths in our everyday lives — what could be more fun than solving puzzles? With brain teasers and games like Sudoku, you can have a blast while learning to use numbers cleverly and creatively. Not to mention Lego—essentially a bucket of education fun! Read on to find out how Lego can play a big part in your maths revision.
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Maths In The Workplace
As we've already stated, mathematical skills and information play a huge role in numerous professions.
If you're seeking a career in finance, then some level of math qualification is required, but you may not necessarily need a degree. Areas you might want to consider include accounting, actuarial work, investment management, investment banking and retail banking.
Aside from the financial sector, there are industries, such as engineering and information technology, that are calling for employees who are good with numbers.
Alternatively, different avenues that maths graduates follow include roles in defence and intelligence, statisticians, operational researchers, academic mathematicians, math specialist teachers in primary or secondary schools, or positions within law, media, business or public sectors.
You can see what jobs are out there for maths enthusiasts by visiting a job website and entering keywords such as mathematics graduate.
So, what should you do as an adult if you want to re-train or apply for jobs that involve maths? Or if you need to learn or relearn certain areas of mathematics or improve your mental maths for any reason?
Are there any tricks or techniques that can help learners get over their fear of the subject?
How should new learners approach their maths classes? How much practice and study is required? When should you call in the help of a certified maths tutor?
These are just some questions that we intend to answer for you below.
Learn A Second Language: Beginning Maths For Adults
Learning maths is comparable to learning a language other than English since it has its own vocabulary, rules and way of thinking.
However, the functional language is completely international and is the same for every single person on the planet. Even if learners arrive at an answer a slightly different way, the principle of maths is the same and can't be manipulated in the same way as other languages and subjects, including scientific ones.
Just like a language, even if you learn all the vocabulary (or in this case, theorems), your knowledge will quickly disappear if you don't put it to practice and use it in your everyday context.
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Maths isn't a passive subject, you need to actively put in the work to grow your understanding and get something out of it.
It's all about mindset. If your thinking is 'I've never been good at maths so I never will be' then you won't be. However, if you change your mindset, you could unlock many unopened doors in your brain and come to realise that anyone can become proficient in maths if they really try.
You also shouldn't listen to throwaway comments from family members saying 'I wasn't good at maths at school either', or from friends who talk about 'maths geeks'. Negative thinking like this can have an influence on you.
If you actively work on your growth mindset, over time you will learn to not only acknowledge your weaknesses but focus on improving them. You will also realise that being good at maths isn't such an impossible feat and nor is it something to be embarrassed by.
While there is evidence to support the common thought that there is a maths gene, scientists qualify this by saying:
Those with a developed number sense from birth are not better at maths but they are more likely to be good at maths.
Furthermore, many scientists suggest the biggest obstacle to maths learning is the fear of learning itself. So you need to take a deep breath and just let your brain take you on a journey!
It is important to note, however, that no one can simply become a maths genius overnight. Or can they?
Scientists believe the left hemisphere of our brains, where all the logical thinking takes place, is swarming with activity yet, for many people, this area is closed off for one reason or another. Whether or not we all have genius-like skills lying dormant in our brains is yet to be proven, but many people have managed to unlock this life-changing skill and go on to achieve great things as a numbers expert.
The website Toptenz lists ten people who have gone on to become professionals in fields they never had an inclination to pursue before sustaining a head injury. This is known as 'acquired savant syndrome'. While cases are rare and often extreme, it begs the question of whether we all have knowledge that is just waiting to be unleashed.
Surely, there has to be an easier way? But do you really want to take it?
There is no satisfaction in being good at something if you haven't put in the hard work and effort to make it happen.
Maths is not learnt, it is practised.
Learning how to solve problems with fluency requires an understanding of the functional workings of the solutions.
Every aspect of mathematics links together. From times tables to algebra to geometry to probability to calculus to arithmetic to triangles to quadratic equations to reasoning, the key to maths mastery is gaining an appreciation of the relationships between different math concepts.
Everyone encounters mathematics at some point. Whether you're a senior secondary college student, an undergraduate, studying for certain exams, or simply looking to learn maths for adults to improve your everyday functional proficiency, there is a way to get back into good 'mathematical' shape.
Rest assured, everyone is capable of studying maths.
Private Tuition, Self Study And Basic Maths Courses For Adults
As an adult, there are many ways to get back into doing maths, but it generally boils down to two options: you either teach yourself or learn with a teacher.
Teaching Yourself Maths Isn't Impossible
If you find yourself unable to study maths with a private teacher, or would just prefer to go it alone, don't worry - being a self-taught mathematician is perfectly possible.
There are plenty of textbooks as well as internet-based maths resources to keep you on track with your mathematics education. Follow video tutorials on YouTube or make use of BBC Skillswise maths guides. You can even find year-long maths courses.
Many websites, such as Study Pug (offering) 'simple maths in plain English' and Maths Online allow free trials of up to a week before you need to decide.
E-learning is an excellent way to optimise your learning journey and you can even do it for free! Mathspace Essentials is a free app which is great for adults who have gaps in their fundamental maths skills that need filling.
If you're looking for something more advanced, Open University is one example of the many online distance learning organisations, and you can do anything from a specialised topic to a maths degree.
Whether or not you're looking to end up with an official qualification, self-paced learning, targeting your interests and needs, will allow you to effectively gain useful maths skills and knowledge.
The suitability and flexible schedule of distance learning is making it increasingly popular. Whether you're at university or have a full-time or part-time job, the course works around you.
You could also look for school support websites aimed at helping children with their education as they progress through their academic careers. You can sign up to platforms such as IXL maths (which you have to pay for, but it's only $12.95 a month for a family membership) or even look at ABC Education Maths.
Websites like these are usually aligned with the Australian Curriculum and will list topics according to the school year and level so you can have a go at some free maths worksheets and quizzes to see where you are in your learning, as well as set yourself some goals.
And if you fancy a maths workout, why not play some free online math games for kids? Websites such as Smash Maths, ABC Education and Cool Math Games offer relevant and fun maths games to help you discover that maths is fun! And if you prefer math practice on-the-go, why not have a look for some math games apps for your smartphone or tablet?
You can start where you feel comfortable and see how far you'd like to go, from counting and the number line to equivalent fractions and geometric math problems.
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Learning Basic Math For Adults With A Teacher
Maths isn't an easy subject for everyone, but there are tips to make it easier to learn maths for adults and children.
Of course, having a logical mind and good problem-solving skills helps.
However, we don't all possess 'mathematical minds'. Some people are more creative and tend to think outside of the box — but this isn't an issue since, according to Professor Jo Boaler, anyone can train their brain to think mathematically.
The best mindset for learning is a growth mindset.
So how do you get in touch with someone who has the right qualification to teach maths? There are several options:
- Look for classes at your local school, college or university: Many education institutions host maths courses after school hours, so it's worth looking around and seeing what's available near you.
- Go to an adult education organisation: These companies cater exclusively to adults who want to improve their knowledge in a certain area and are quite common in Australia.
- Take evening classes: Adult maths education doesn't just take place in school, but in community centres, public libraries and other private venues. Maths lessons are usually delivered in the evening to allow people time to make their way from work.
- Get a private maths tutor: There are many different ways to find yourself a one-to-one tutor depending on whether you want to learn maths online or face-to-face, and what level you wish to achieve. You can look for tutors advertising in local shops and newspapers or use an online platform, such as Superprof, to find a registered teacher near you.
The advantage to having a private maths tutor Perth is that you have the full, undivided attention of your teacher, and no one else to distract you.
When it comes to setting goals, having an educator to guide you can be invaluable since they know the key skills you should be working on and how to adapt their teaching to your personal learning style.
Your maths tutor will assess you and create a tailored learning plan based on your strengths and weaknesses. This aspect of teaching is vital for many learners of maths who struggle with traditional methods.
Unlike organised mathematics courses, with private math tutoring, you can learn at your own pace and not worry about asking silly questions in front of your classmates.
Superprof: Teaching Maths For Adults Privately
Superprof, a leading platform for tutors and students to connect and form working partnerships, offers a user-friendly website on which you can instantly locate tutors offering maths tutoring services in your local area, as well as those who are able to offer remote online tuition.
There are close to 200,000 tutors listed online who can help you with your maths concerns either electronically or via video call. With average tuition rates being $17 per hour, you will find someone who can meet your needs and get you moving forward with your maths understanding. Some Superprof tutors are mathematicians, some are qualified teachers, while others are individuals who are talented with numbers and want to pass on their knowledge and skills.
Be sure to read about your prospective tutor and take advantage of the first lesson free policy so you can get a feel for their teaching methods and work out if you think you will get along in a professional student-teacher manner.
Remember, the cost does not always reflect the person's experience and qualifications but, that said, you do get what you pay for.
It is important to have a good relationship with your tutor so you look forward to your lessons instead of dreading each time you come into contact.
If you choose, or are forced, to pick a tutor who does not live nearby, the chances are they will set your work by sending you documents, and will also schedule some face-to-face catch-ups via Skype or another video call platform to ensure you benefit from some one-on-one instructional time as well as just sitting with your head down in formulas and equations.
Resources for Relearning Maths As A Mature Student
Relearning maths demands a dedication of your time and plenty of willpower.
You also need to optimise your workspace for learning and overcome your fear of maths.
Give yourself the best chance of success in maths by creating the right learning environment. Set aside a space you can dedicate to learning and remove as many distractions as you can.
This means putting your mobile phone out of reach and on silent, closing all open social media tabs on your computer, and letting those around you know you need to be spending time on your studies.
This method of learning not only allows you to understand the content of your courses but will also help you remember important formulae, theorems and maths facts as well as specific maths vocabulary.
Flashcards let you consolidate your knowledge by moving away from the textbook and putting things into your own words. It's a good idea to draw diagrams and creating your own colour-coded system as well.
You can have a set of revision cards for each topic (such as Pythagorean theorem, trigonometry, differential equations, graphing, polynomial functions, factorising and integration), or for each level of your learning plan.
This method is useful if you learn visually or benefit from testing yourself, as it allows you to add your own definitions and a structure that makes sense to you.
Personalisation is the key to success when it comes to revision flashcards and general learning. A tailored learning plan, based on your individual learning strategies, is the most effective way of making sure you retain important information.
You don't need fancy software or even a computer to make these interactive math resources — just some paper and coloured pencils.
Past Exam Papers
Whether you're trying to get back into the swing of conquering maths questions on a regular basis, or just looking at getting some extra practice with a new maths concept, past exam papers are a great way to get to grips with the exam question format.
Past maths test papers are an invaluable revision resource.
Education institution websites often have such resources for students, or even the public. Working through exam papers, or trial papers, can help you prepare for the real thing, as you get to know what different questions are looking for and how they tend to word problems.
How should I use example papers to prepare?
The best way of learning how to tackle certain big maths problems is to practise different questions on the same topic over and over again. This means you can not only see what you did right, but more importantly, where you went wrong so you can do better next time. You will also begin to feel more comfortable answering problems in the required way, to the point where it becomes automatic.
It's not enough to just do questions - you really need to understand where the answers are coming from.
Learning Maths Using LEGO
Alycia Zimmerman, a math teacher from New York, uses a simple yet effective method to help her students with their number sense.
Learning through methods other than reading and listening to course content can offer a change of scenery and add a fun side to maths.
This creative method, combining maths and LEGO, puts forward a positive initiative to teach maths in a completely different but practical way. LEGO can be used to demonstrate basic maths, such as addition and subtraction, as well as multiplication and division, or fractions and decimals.
Bringing a playful side to maths can help learners appreciate that maths is fun.
Different Ways Lego Might Be Used To Learn Maths For Adults
Here are just some examples of how you or a teacher might use lego pieces to play around with simple maths theories.
|Use bricks in single lines||Visual understanding of counting|
|Use bricks in multiple lines or layers||Visual understanding of multiplication|
|Use lego characters||Visual understanding of statistics, groups of numbers, adding and subtracting|
Learning Basic Maths With Puzzles
Mathematical puzzles and brainteasers combine reasoning with numbers, calculations and figures.
And it doesn't only benefit your head! Brain training is equally as good for your entire body and wellbeing.
Researchers believe that many changes to the mind associated with age, such as memory loss, are actually related to lifestyle. In the same way that your muscles get flabby and weak from being inactive, your brain does too.
There are various things that keeping your mind active with cognitive training can do, such as:
- increase your ability to memorise
- cut down on the risk, and slow the decline, of mental illnesses such as dementia
- improve your brain processing speed
- prevent boredom
- enhance concentration
Final Tips For Learning Basic Maths for Adults
When learning or relearning a subject that is such an important part of everyday and professional life:
- take your time and make sure you don't miss any details
- create a designated math zone where you can give questions your full attention
- cevelop a pragmatic and logical growth mindset
- practise exercises until they become second nature
- realise there is only one correct answer to every maths question
And one last piece of advice: don't be tempted to skip sections of your learning.
Each part of the maths curriculum is important for a different reason, and leaving one out puts you at risk of not understanding something further down the line.
All mathematical topics are interlinked, so dedicating enough time to learning each one will set you up for success in the future.