Today’s approach to learning per se is different from yesteryears. In the past, there was much to be memorized and answers expected of students were more objective and rigid to an extent. Date back into the past, manual labor in farms was much in demand until the Industrial Revolution brought mechanization and the advent of a ‘modern’ formal education system. We have since passed the second Industrial Revolution, the Technological Revolution, and are in the third Industrial Revolution. Today digital technology and artificial intelligence reigns and will continue to displace much labor resulting in sectors of jobs that remain being occupations where machines will not be able to match human performance.
So what skills are needed in today and tomorrow’s job market?
In-demand skills for even today’s job market has greatly transformed over the last ten years and will continue to evolve in this 21 st century. Today employers look at people with strong communicative, team-work, adaptability, problem-solving, critical thinking skills coupled with tech and digital fluency.
Getting to the point: why then is mathematics so important for your primary school child’s future success? The main reason is because this subject encompasses much of what a student can gain that is line with the skills mentioned earlier.
Math as a Form of Communication
We all know that the math language is a universal language, understood across borders through numbers and other symbols. Expressions through mathematical equations also convey facts, demonstrate ideas and solutions and even the depicting of algorithms help mankind make predictions and forecast trends. Abstract concepts like algebra and geometry explain logical aspects while graphs and diagrams visually represent patterns in data for analysis. Here we already see the value of this subject.
Math and Collaboration
Team work can help students improve both the communicative and thinking skills; it helps them express their understanding in a supportive and interactive environment. Through collaborating, students can express themselves in mathematical vocabulary and also improve their sense of expression of how math problems can be solved. Team spirit works hand in hand with co-operative learning and children realize that they can help others or seek help from peers when their math work gets somewhat challenging.
Math and Adaptability and Creativity
Math makes room for disruption in our thinking process. Meeting road blocks while solving a challenging math problem builds flexible mindsets and emphasizes the need to rebuild or reconstruct our math solutions. Thus, our advice is to expose kids to change, to encourage them to see the spectrum of possible solutions and be open-minded to challenges. Allow the engaging of some risk-taking rather than kill their proposals and on our part as parents, to not rule out the range of ideas they bring out, be they viable or otherwise. If not, how to learn to be creative when we keep thinking and deciding on their behalf!
Math as a Way of Thinking
In the study of math and the process of solving math problems, the students will need to think critically about the question. They will have to think systematically while breaking down the complex question into smaller bits and work each step in a logical manner. They may even need to stretch their creative thinking skills to apply concepts less visible or close at hand. Hence we can also see real life solutions demanding math and logical thinking such as a child pondering over buying something beyond his weekly allowance and his decision on how to do it which would very likely include his creative imagination.
Math in the Digital Age
It is known that in the origins of digital (technology) functioning were simple mathematical signs and operations, introduced into the system more than half a century ago. Decimal digits (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9), which, when performing various arithmetic operations, effectively provided the aid. With digitalization, it became possible to convert these numbers into letters, and later into whole texts. These mathematical symbols and operations were used to convert numbers to colors, sounds, and images, and so we have today, 3D, 4D, and even 5D effects. If not for anything, digitization would not have been possible without the discipline of mathematics. Even the study of computer science and computer engineering would require a strong math background.
Math Opens up Many Career Paths
Math opens up many career paths that use a large number of math concepts: accountants, architects, engineers, scientists, and even fashion and interior designers. Other professionals who use math skills to complete tasks include CEOs analysing financial report and pilots calculating the amount of fuel to upload based on weight, weather forecast and other variables. Today’s modern careers include data analysts, software developers and cyber security analysts. Secondary and post-secondary math requirement ranks high in most areas of study and today’s interest in the study of STEM, where math makes up a fair proportion of this field, prevails.
Why then is mathematics so important for your primary school child’s future success? The reason is simple: we know this subject builds a mental discipline that enhances logical reasoning and mental rigor. Math also plays a significant role in the overall curriculum as the subject intertwines with the other subjects, even the arts. A good math foundation will allow any learner to build upon his math strength, increase his computational skills, spatial reasoning and critical thinking skills. An early head-start at pointing our children in the right direction of learning math will definitely reap positive results in their near future.
Here in S.A.M. Hougang, we embrace this philosophy. Resilient math kids firstly do not worry about pass or fail; they do not give ‘I do not know’ answers for they try; and they do not copy correct answers and call them ‘corrections’.
Parents need to understand this.
They should also realize there are various ways to solve a problem and many paths to grasp and understand a math concept. Instead, we let our students identify where they went wrong and let them try to figure out on their own, regardless of the number of attempts; patience needed on the part of us adults.