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Math tips from students


(First of three parts)

How can students master mathematics? Here are some practical tips from my Math 12 (finite math) students this semester.


John Andrew Amigo says:  Find motivation to bring out the best in you.  Without motivation, it is hard to face math challenges.  For me, my family and my future are my motivations to try my best to do well always.  I want to make my parents proud and repay them for all they have done for me.  The best way to do that is to show them that I can have a good future.  Although math may get difficult, I always remind myself I am doing it for my parents and me.

Ma. Henna Arianna Yu says:  Conquer your fear.  I notice that students considered “intelligent” are those who excel in math or science.  Why aren’t those who are good in English or Filipino held in equal esteem?  Because everyone thinks math is fearsome.  “Math geniuses” are like knights who defeat the dragon. They are greatly admired… Some students who excel in math do not do well in English or Araling Panlipunan but they face the subjects head on because they [are not as] intimidating [as] math… If we can stop fearing math, if we stop feeling like we are drowning in concepts and formulas, then we can face math with a clear head.

Gem Villaviray says:  Do not run away from math.  You may say, “When I drive, I won’t even calculate for the curve in the road,” or, “When I eat a pizza, I wouldn’t bother with the radius or circumference.”  Trust me, these alibis don’t work.  There is no escaping math in life; even the richest and most successful people can’t get away from it.  Everyone uses math.  You are given the opportunity to learn and to use math for your benefit.

Joanna Krystle Mungcal says:  Treat math as part of daily life.  From the spare change in your pocket to the newest combat aircraft, math is there.  Stocks, salaries, paychecks, investments—

without math, we have no way of knowing if we are being duped.  Even in art, poems have meters and forms have a set number of lines.  A sonnet should only have 14 lines.  In design, geometric measures ensure symmetry and balance.  In music, beats have measures, duple, triple and so on, to determine the tempo of the song.  Without math, we would still be bartering for food, music would be syncopated, writing might not have a decent form and illustrations would look as if the artist were on drugs.  Without math, the world would fall apart.

Emilio Luis Hofileña says:  Change your mindset. I may sound like your dad, your mom or, worse, your professor.  But through the years, you discover that your elders really do know what they’re talking about.  Stop playing the rebel and take their advice seriously. Math problems are just puzzles that don’t seem too interesting at first.  In high school, seeing geometry as a shape game with specific rules for angles and lines made me enjoy it.  In college, I found satisfaction in solving algebraic systems using the Gauss-Jordan elimination method because it seemed like a puzzle with a specific order of 1’s and 0’s and also because it was cool doing something called a matrix.  In my head, I was Neo.  Telling people I was solving the matrix made me feel 10 times more productive and I was having fun to boot.  Little things like these keep life interesting and help us stay sane.  Being bored is a choice.  Dig deep and seek out the fun.  It’s there, I promise.  Find answers to questions in your head without instantly resorting to Google.  Think, question, rely on your intuition and have the patience to embark on that quest.

No excuses

Alexandra Patricia Estrella says:  Do not compare yourself to your classmates, especially those taking more advanced math courses.  You will end up thinking, “I am not good in math,” and this will affect your performance.  You may get poor scores because you keep comparing yourself to others.  Let’s face it, some people are just better at math.  Some students also have a stronger foundation in math because of the schools where they came from. The last thing you want to do is compare yourself to these people.  Just do your best and you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

Demetrio Custodio III says:  Do not let up.  Endurance is key.   After passing all the tests, you may become relaxed and overconfident.   This is natural but this is also a sign you should keep your foot on the gas pedal.  The achievement is a mere foreshadowing of where you want to go but not the actual place you want to be.  Don’t be content until you’ve finished the race. Don’t be mediocre.  Hone the skills you have learned in math in your daily routine.  The writer S. Gudder says, “The essence of math is not to make simple things complicated but to make complicated things simpler.”

Carlos Manuel Tabunda says:  Junk all excuses.  To those who complain about math, the whole secret is this:  Study.  If you do not pass the course, then it’s your fault because you know math is hard for you… and still you didn’t work hard enough… Don’t tell me “you did your best” or “it’s too hard.”  If your best isn’t enough, do better. If you have a hard time in math, then practice and study until you master everything.  If you can’t even do that, then you don’t belong in college.  If you argue “math isn’t important in the future” or “I won’t need this in real life,” then I have news for you:  Math may or may not be important in the future, but it’s important now.  For your grades and education, which you’ll need for that future you’re too busy daydreaming about.  This is real life and you need math to pass.  If you spend less time whining and more time learning, you might actually pass the course.

Next week:  Studying math well

E-mail the author at blessbook@yahoo.com.

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