Finally! A math site directed towards girls! And, even better, a site that covers math topics from kindergarten through high school, and is free!
Ask school-aged girls what they hate most about school and undoubtedly many of them will say “math”. I’ve never understood this phenomenon; math to me was like a puzzle and even fun! It was the only subject I could actually do while watching TV, since I could look up, watch a bit, look down, write a bit, look up, watch a bit, and so on….Plus, I wasn’t crazy about memorizing, and I found that I could memorize a lot less in math. It really was like working on puzzles. What’s more fun than that? I just didn’t see what the big deal was with math.
Having been a math tutor for 20 years, I decided to write down what I preach to my students, who happen to be mostly girls. I find if I relate the problems to stuff in their real life (being actively involved instead of passively involved), the math becomes much easier and much more fun. One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that the math books in schools tend to be directed towards boys’ things: baseball, rocket ships, and throwing balls. I really don’t think this is necessarily done on purpose, but the textbooks always struck me as being more masculine. This is one of the reasons I decided to write this series of blogs.
The other reason I am writing these blogs is to explain a very interesting yet a bit controversial concept about learning math: how much to understand about what’s going on and how much to memorize. This concept is very important, since there are many things you have to memorize when learning math. Some students (girls and boys, obviously) are afraid to memorize things, since they feel if they do, it means that they aren’t understanding the math. This is a widely seen misconception. Just remember this: over thousands of years, mathematicians (way more advanced than we are) have come up with countless definitions, equations, and tricks to do math. Why would we want to reinvent the wheel and try to understand what they’ve done? Just memorize, in many cases! Of course we need to have a basic level of understanding so we can do the problems, but sometimes we just need to accept things and not worry how we got there. I agree that sometimes it’s difficult to know when to start understanding and stop memorizing, but this is something that can be learned over the years. Remember that math is nothing more than a bag of tricks that we can use to solve problems – and it really can be fun! Much more fun than history, in my book!
The other concept I want to stress is that many times we can make the problem into an easier problem by either using easier numbers, or trying real world examples with easier numbers. For example, let’s say we’re having trouble figuring out what an orange costs when we have paid $5.88 for 14 oranges. We’re not sure whether to add, subtract, multiply or divide. So let’s pretend we’ve paid $1 for 2 oranges. Well, this is easy – each orange is 50 cents! We can easily see that we have divided the total cost by the number of oranges. If we can, we need to create examples before formulas. Much easier, right?
This shelovesmath blog will have post entries but will mainly consist of web pages. The pages are meant to be a primers, meaning I briefly cover topics starting with basic counting and working through high school math. Of course I don’t cover every topic in math (it would be thousands of pages!), but I try to hit on the ones that are covered in math classes and that my students have the most trouble with. More importantly, I try to incorporate many of the hints and helpful tricks that I use in my day-to-day tutoring. If the books seem “babyish,” that’s because I mean it that way; I’ve been told that I explain things in “simple and plain” terms, which is usually not the case in “normal” math books.
You can go through these pages from the beginning, or use them to catch up, stay on course, or even get ahead of your peers, like during the summers (something I did as a student, since I was quite the nerd). Or, you can also just go to a specific page if you’re having trouble with that particular topic as you’re learning it in school. And remember, not unlike learning ballet, math requires practice to get better at it!
So sit back and enjoy and I will show you how to make your most terrifying math topic easy to understand. I promise you!
HINT: Read the sections before you study those topics in class. It will make class much more enjoyable!
PLEASE NOTE: In no way am I insinuating with this web site/blog that girls are worse in math than boys. I just believe that math examples need to be more geared towards girls, and math should be taught more simply for both girls and boys! I don’t have a problem with boys reading this site, since, for years and years, girls have been reading boys’ math textbooks.