Fear not before heading into math class

Posted on Sep 22, 2010 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Posted by of Insight Publications

Engineering education
leaders are on to something when they say it’s important to get kids interested
in engineering at a young age. (You can read more about the needs for well-trained employees by
checking out my story for the September issue of Insight on Manufacturing.)

Things are
different from when I was in grade school, thankfully, because I encountered a
fundamental flaw in the system – I was taught to fear math early on. It started
with a frustrated teacher who declared loudly in class that I must have a
mental block for mathematics, and continued later when I just didn’t see the
point. The real-world application was lost and only cryptically explained. I
not only disliked math, I dreaded it. I struggled with it throughout my education,
up to and including college. Much later, while preparing for the GRE, I armed
myself with introductory books on Algebra and Geometry, determined to plow through
with the goal of graduate school as a motivator. But to my surprise I
discovered that the problems were not difficult and even (gasp) interesting. I
even discovered errors in the books. Why, then, had it been so hard? What was
the point of all of that struggle and pain? I’m so pleased for all these kids
today who will understand how interesting and vital math can be – how it can help
solve the world’s problems. If it had been presented to me in such an exciting,
practical way, then my experience (and the experience of countless others)
might have been different.

–By Nikki