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Fractions! Decimals! and Algebra! OH MY!

by David Kuharski

So you say math isn't your strong point.  ME TOO!

Or maybe you have knack for all the numbers, and symbols,  and vectors, and quadrants etc...

But what about when you were, oh say--8?  If you were anything like me as a youngster your paper-bag covered, 10 year-old 'Mathematics' textbook (the one where the kids were wearing bell bottoms and all of the cars rolled off the lines before you were born) was rarely opened or understood.  Like the teacher from the Charlie Brown holiday specials, math was a foreign language.

Then one day I remember my math teacher in fifth grade going through a 'rudimentary review' of our math skills.  What skills?  But as she broke down different skill sets mysteriously I understood.  Seriously.  I did.  Fractions... OH!  That's what they mean.  Decimals?  AHH, point-five means one-half -- point three three -- one-third!  And, better yet, I found myself digging through the recesses of my brain, pulling up all that gobbly-gook that my teachers had stuffed into my skull.  Suddenly, these foreign concepts made sense.  I might be over-blowing this by just a bit--I wasn't an Einstein by any stretch--but I made my Math Major at the U of M dad happy when I started understanding my math!

Well, it turns out that my experience may not have been unique! (Wait a sec? -- There are other not-so-super Math Men and Women out there??)  Recently Stanford conducted a study into how youngsters learn math and whether some are predisposed not to 'get it' right away. 

So, does that mean if your child is math challenged you can chalk it up to this predisposition and fire the tutor?  I'm not going to tell you what to do--but I will say, having all of that gobbly-gook stored up in my head came in all too handy when the veil was lifted from my eyes. 

Here's that article...