Every semester throngs of incoming freshmen howl out their earsplitting lamentation: “This is so stupid! Why do I have to take algebra classes? I am not going to use any kind of math in my profession!” What these arriving freshmen do not understand is that math is a skill that is used every day in all professions in some form or another. Understanding and being able to function mathematically is a fundamental building block of a well-rounded education. However, disabilities related to math and numbers can hinder students who are affected. Courses such as algebra provide an opportunity for students to build confidence in their abilities and may lead to jobs with greater financial benefit. For these reasons, it is important to overcome or workaround difficulties and develop a strong knowledge of mathematics for success in school and in life.
Speaking proper English is essential in today’s workforce. It can be quite a task to take a professional person seriously if they speak in double negatives, use slang or misuse terms commonly applied in their line of work. The same can be said when it comes to math ability. Although knowledge of complicated math may not be necessary in some lines of work, many professions require specific knowledge of algebraic equations, calculus, or trigonometry to complete job tasks. For example, nurses need to convert grams to milligrams for drug dosages or be able to calculate the number of drops per minute for an IV should computerized equipment not be available. Also airline pilots need to be able to calculate landing speeds, glide slopes, and what degree of flaps to deploy for a safe landing in an emergency situation.
Secondly, students who have been diagnosed with learning disabilities such as dyscalculia can have their success greatly hindered. Dyscalculia refers to a wide range of difficulties pertaining to math. Because the symptoms of learning disabilities vary a great deal from one person to another, it can be hard to pin down whether or not a person has a disability. Children may be able to speak, read, and write well, but are slow to develop counting and math problem solving skills. Also, children may have good memory for printed number words, but have difficulty reading numbers, or recalling numbers in sequence. If children have not mastered basic math skills by the time they are adults, it is impossible to jump into college level mathematics, and services should be employed to ensure success in college.
Dyscalculia can be treated by modifying the way a teacher presents ideas to their student. Teachers might start with concrete examples and slowly moving on to more abstract concepts. The use of graph paper can help students organize ideas on paper, or finding different ways of presenting...