Student Success Hinges on “Fun” Math

April 19, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Many Americans are unaware that this April marks the 20th anniversary of Mathematics Awareness Month, designed to increase the public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics in the United States.

It is of no great surprise this anniversary will slip by quietly, as the United States continues to rank low among the industrialized nations in math achievement. In fact, a study coordinated by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that fourth-graders in this country ranked 12th out of 25 countries in math scores, while eighth graders ranked 15th out of 45 countries.

As a resident of the United Kingdom, where we often look to the U.S. for leadership, I am concerned by this trend.

There are sweeping consequences: Low math achievement, coupled with a chronic need for mathematicians and well-trained math teachers, is creating an enormous hole in the U.S. labor market. As the global economy is greatly directed by the health of the American dollar, this is a worldwide issue.

Many do not recognize that the explosion of the Internet and other evolving technologies have created countless new ways to apply math in the every-day business world. Math is now required in all parts of our economy - for marketers to forge one-on-one relationships, for biologists to conduct vital lab research and even for the reporters of this publication to develop many of their stories.

The latest U.S. Census data shows only 32 percent of U.S. students who move on to college, earn math-based degrees. But in China and Japan, the numbers are 59 percent and 66 percent, respectively,

The U.S. government, at its highest levels, is justifiably concerned. The President recently warned, “This competitive world is going to demand a job skill set that emphasizes math and science. If our kids don’t have the talents necessary to compete, those jobs won’t go away, they’ll just go to another country.”

So, in marking Mathematics Awareness Month, math educators face an enormous challenge. We must closely examine how we teach math. We must understand and appreciate that there is no “one size fits all” approach to teaching a standardized set of formulas and equations. And, most of all, math needs to be fun.

At Math Monkey™ Knowledge Centers, a supplemental education services company, we are convinced there is a better way to teach elementary school children how to succeed in learning math.

Rather than drilling students with rote memorization of standard math formulas, we teach students how to learn basic math through the use of ancient Indian math concepts. We base the Math Monkey™ curriculum on Vedic math – which was rediscovered in the early 1900s.

What makes Vedic math a strong supplement for standard classroom instruction is that it teaches children how to figure out math problems in their heads. For example, after just a few minutes of instruction, students will be able to give change for $1 or $10.

The Vedic math program can be easily applied to regular classroom instruction, as students can use these easy-to-learn techniques to check their work and enhance their grades. And, while fostering a love for mathematics, Vedic math also equips this generation with a fun and valuable tool to compete in the global marketplace.

What makes Math Monkey™ unique is not just how we teach, but what we teach. Our educators share a concrete method of mathematics that helps students excel in school and expands their horizons to a potential career in math.

I have been studying Vedic math in Europe for 35 years; now is the time for the U.S. to embrace this method of learning.

Let’s make this Mathematics Awareness Month mean something. Let’s work toward giving American students the tools they need to build a solid foundation in mathematics. And, that begins, with making math fun…again.