What is a student really saying when he or she says, “I hate math!”?
To hear someone make the statement, “I hate math!” is, unfortunately, not uncommon. In fact, it is not restricted just to students, but parents, neighbours, and, yes, even educational colleagues say this, too. But what are people really saying with that declaration? For all my experience I believe that what they really are saying is “I don’t get math.” And of course, when folks do not “get math”, then they are generally not good at it, only increasing and solidifying their dislike.
That means the onus is on those of us who teach math to do so in such a manner that allows learners to truly make sense of numbers. Math is supposed to make sense for everyone! Never allow the words to come out of your mouth, “You don’t have to understand this — just do it like this,” while showing an algorithm that is meaningless to students. That is how the “not getting math” is perpetrated and we need to stop that now. If you want to stop the “I hate math” mentality, then you must teach math for understanding. Don’t settle for anything less.