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Maths: three ways to think about Maths

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Maths: three ways to think about Maths

It doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you put all those numbers and symbols in their right place.

If your brain goes into panic mode as soon as you see one of those weird italic xes or the square root symbol, try sneaking up on Maths in one or more of these ways.

Maths as a language

If you’ve studied another language, you’ll know how mind-blowing it is to realise that you maybe-sorta-kinda understand what someone’s saying in that SBS film without reading the subtitles. Maths is like that, too. At first it all looks like nonsense, but it’s nonsense that can be broken down into “words” and understood. And once you know what those symbols mean when they’re put together, and how the grammar works, you can start using the language of problem-solving. Which is, after all, what Maths was invented to do.

Maths as a skill

When we’re not good at something straight away, it’s often tempting to put it all in the bin. But like anything worthwhile, getting your head around Maths means a lot of practice. If you play basketball every week, you’re going to get better at it – even more so if you spend extra time shooting hoops. In the same way, the more effort you put into drilling on all those weird concepts and equations, the easier they’ll become to solve. Remember: at one stage 2+2=4 didn’t mean anything to you either.

Maths as building blocks

Sometimes we think of Maths as one thing, but really it’s a whole collection of different things that can be put together – like building blocks or Lego. Just because you’re a master of trigonometry doesn’t guarantee you’ll instantly know calculus. The good news is, this means we can learn it in smaller chunks, and easily identify the blocks we need to improve on. Over time, you’ll come to realise that you’ve built a big pile of stuff that you know, and it’ll help you learn the more difficult bits.

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