# Tag: Balancing Equations

## How to Learn Mathematics

Here’s an interesting article I found on Article Alley about how you can learn mathematics!

You are a high school student taking mathematics, more likely unwillingly
advisors tell you that you need to learn this subject. You may or may not agree, but at
least, you want to graduate from school with good grades. However since you entered
middle or high school math has been getting progressively harder and you have
become frustrated thinking that you will never master this subject. Take heart. It may
To learn math, it is useful to understand the nature of the subject.
Mathematics is sequential. Imagine you are in a building and want to go to a higher
floor, but there is no elevator. You have to go by a staircase; but each step is high.
You cannot skip steps. You have to climb step one then step two, step three etc.
Learning mathematics is like that. You have to understand counting before you can
master angles and equations before you tackle trigonometry. This means you should
not skip classes unnecessarily. You must master all topics, starting with the simplest
ones, especially key topics, not only for themselves, but also because they are
preparation for later work which you will not understand without the proper basis. Do
you think then, that you should miss classes unnecessarily?
Some concepts are more important than others. I think of balancing equations,
substitution, ratio, simplification, directed numbers among others. I say these are
important because they are used over and over in learning mathematics and solving
problems. So learn to identify key concepts (or have them identified for you), how
they are applied and how to apply them since they are used repeatedly. You will find
this more useful than memorising formulae. In fact with this approach you may find
formulae easier to remember, because they will be better understood.
Many learners have difficulty recalling mathematical facts when they need to.

You may have understood the fact or concept before, but at the time when you need
to apply it you cannot bring it to mind. Research shows that keeping knowledge from
being lost depends upon two things; how important the learner perceives it to be at
the time that it is being learned, and how he/she is able to make connections with
earlier learned knowledge. What does this mean practically for learning math?
While learning you may want to think about how important new knowledge will be
to you. Think about how widely the new concept can be applied , how will it help you
to do more mathematics? Of what practical use is it? How will understanding it affect
your grades? How will you feel as an achiever in math? Do you gain a feeling of
power when you rise to a challenge and solve a problem? Will this new learning help
you to regain that feeling? You may have to question your teacher or do some
research on some of these questions.
You must try to see connections between new and old concepts. For instance,
expansion and factorisation are applications of the distributive law, which is a
property of numerical operations that you have been learning from grade one; those
variables in Algebra represent numbers and you are used to numbers; balancing an
equation is a new way of looking at substitution. Concepts in mathematics arise
logically from earlier concepts. This stems from the second important property of
math, it is logical. As I have said before, always ask yourself, your classmates or
that you already understand and accept. It is easy to make connections in
mathematics, for the concepts are highly linked. If you are not making the
connections, then you are not learning the subject, and to make the connections
increases the likelihood that you will recall the facts as you need them, and more
importantly, be able to apply the concepts in problem solving. Try actively to make
sense of the subject. I repeat. Do all you can to make sense of the subject. Do not be
satisfied to memorise formulae and methods without understanding them. You
understand a step when you not only understand how the result is arrived at , but also
why that operation or method was used.
Explaining mathematics to someone is a good way to deepen your own
understanding and a good aid to recall. Rebecca DeCamillis in her e book (see link
below) suggests working with a ‘study buddy’ or forming a ‘homework club’. In my
opinion, it is also useful to be on the lookout for mathematical patterns and uses for
mathematics in your daily life. You will begin to see more of the relevance of the
subject and you may begin to regard it more highly, resulting in a more positive
attitude which will help to motivate you towards learning the subject. You may even
begin to like it. Finally, try to have fun with math. Go online. Solve some math
puzzles, play some math games, join a math club, enter into math competitions.
You will get a lot out of the subject if you engage with it.