# Mathematics Education

Manila Bulletin, October 17, 2008 | Go to article overview

# Mathematics Education

AS some of our readers pointed out, what is important in education is to learn how to think. But to think it is necessary to have a language. There are also special languages. Accounting is said to be the language of business. Mathematics is the language of science. Filipino math education is sadly deficient. Our students are more at home with Biology in contrast to Physics and Chemistry because Biology requires the least mathematics. The first need is to have an improved attitude towards mathematics. Filipino students have often had traumatic and frustrating experiences with math. Math is a chain and if one link is missing it is most frustrating to pull on such a chain with a missing link.

A subject should be taught when the child is most ready for it. Mathematics should be taught early since it needs a lot of memory work and the young have excellent memories. There are two tables that have to be memorized cold: The addition table and the multiplication table. Although higher mathematics may need a lot of logic and imagination, at the start it should be sheer memorization, cold memory with automatic reflex answers. Rote memory of the multiplication table is often done but not the addition table. After these tables only a few formulas are needed, like fractions, decimals, powers, equation, etc. One does not have to understand their rationale but only their use. (I remember taking a class for a whole semester on the concept of Zero. Only the professional mathematicians have to go through these concepts.) The Arabs developed our mathematics as early as the third century BC. It is a fantastic invention. It also did away with the cumbersome Roman numbers and mathematics. Many mathematical inventions were done by geniuses like Leibnitz when they were teenagers in the 16th and 17th century. We are told that these European math geniuses used to toast each other with: "To mathematical elegance. …

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