A professor from a United States college has advised education authorities to utilise exciting initiatives to make mathematics more appealing to students.
Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College in California, Arthur Benjamin, is also calling on parents to encourage their children to embrace the subject even
when they find it difficult and show signs they may be losing interest.
Professor Benjamin, who is also a professional magician, spoke to Barbados TODAY on Wednesday at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill, Campus, where he delivered a series of The Mathemagics Shows.
“Mathematics that involves games and puzzles can be a lot of fun, so this is something that authorities can look at to get children interested. And for parents, my message is ‘don’t give up’. If your child came home from school and said they were having trouble with reading, you would never say, ‘well, I guess you are not a reading person’. You would say, ‘no, you have to learn to read, it’s important’.
“It is too easy for parents to say, ‘well, I was not very much of a maths person and maybe you are not a maths person either’, and that is a bad message to send, especially to their daughters,” he said.
Professor Benjamin said for many decades, women were made to believe that it was easier for their male counterparts to grasp mathematical concepts.
“And yet, that is completely not true. Women are just as good at mathematics as men; they just don’t need to give up. The most important way to succeed in mathematics is to put in the time and practice,” he advised.
In fact, Professor Benjamin further indicated that being able to do maths was essential in today’s society since “we are living in an age where data surrounds us”.
He said persons who can make use of that data are usually equipped to acquire well-paying jobs.
As public concern mounts over poor student performance in the subject in the region, a concerted effort is underway to highlight the exciting and entertaining possibilities of maths and its many applications in an entertaining exercise.
The Cave Hill Campus of the UWI, through its Faculty of Science and Technology and Student Enrolment and Retention Unit (SERU), is hosting four of The Mathemagics Shows in Lecture Theatre 1 (LT1) of the Roy Marshall Teaching Complex over the course of the next few days.
Professor Benjamin is also a New York Times bestselling author and a presenter of TED Talks with more than 50 million views.
“I do presentations like this all over the world but I spend my days teaching mathematics to college students. But on the side, I work with aspiring students to learn maths. I hope that my shows will take students who have either lost interest or lost their will to learn mathematics to say, ‘hey, this could be fun, let’s give it another chance’,” he said.