By Maryjane C. Tablit
Mathematics is a subject that requires logical thought, and trains students to think critically and creatively. It provides students with the essential skills in reasoning, decision-making and problem solving to help them make sense of many aspects of our rapidly changing world.
Mathematics can be our gateway for national progress. That’s
because Filipino students with strong mathematical knowledge will help ensure
the country’s economic survival. Mathematics can provide a strong foundation
that prepares our youth to pursue higher education and be part of the country’s
technologically-oriented work force in the future. Therefore, it’s necessary to
teach children the fundamental ideas of numbers and number concepts. This will
help them become more proficient in computing and problem solving.
A document prepared by the Philippine Council of Mathematics
Teacher Educators Inc. and the Science Education Institute of the Department of
Science and Technology, dubbed Mathematics Framework for Philippine Basic
Education, enumerates seven principles that explain why mathematics is crucial
to our economic survival.
Principle 1: Being mathematically competent means more than having the
ability to compute and perform algorithms, and mathematical procedures. A
mathematically competent student does not only know how to compute and perform
algorithms, but is also able to pose and solve mathematical problems, and apply
mathematical skills and reasoning in other subjects and everyday experiences.
Principle 2: The physical and social dimensions of a mathematical environment
contribute to one’s success in learning mathematics. Students need a learning
environment that is safe, clean and allows plenty of movement and exploration.
An ideal mathematical environment is one that is well equipped with tools for
Principle 3: Mathematics is best learned when students are actively
engaged. Mathematics is not a spectator sport. Students must be engaged in the
learning activities planned by the teacher for them to learn faster. Therefore,
students cannot expect to learn by simply watching their teacher solve problems
on the board. Students must bear the responsibility of being actively engaged
in order to maximize their learning potential. They ought to join in class
discussions, ask questions, argue and reason out so that they see the many
different aspects of mathematics that they are studying.
Principle 4: A deep understanding of mathematics requires a variety of
tools for learning. Following from Principle 3, mathematical tools allow
students to be actively engaged in learning mathematics and deepen their
understanding. These tools include manipulative and hands-on materials that can
be effective for developing, clarifying and applying mathematical concepts.
These materials should be carefully integrated into the instructional process.
Technology offers a variety of tools that must be used judiciously. The use of
technology should be driven by the needs of the students as learners of
mathematics and should be used when it aids the learning process. It should not
be regarded as a substitute for students’ understanding of quantitative
concepts and relationships. When properly used, tools, such as measuring
instruments, scientific and graphing calculators, and computers with
appropriate software, can contribute to a rich learning environment. For
example, calculators should be used with caution; elementary students should be
able to perform basic arithmetic operations independent of calculator use.
Principle 5: Assessment in mathematics must be valued for the sake of
knowing what and how students learn or fail to learn mathematics. Assessment is
an essential component of mathematics learning. Whether the assessment is
carried out by teachers or external groups and during or all throughout the
learning period or at the end of it, results are useful to both teachers and
students. It is through assessment, formal or informal, that students know how
much mathematics they have learned and how much more they need to know.
Assessment tools must be varied in order to understand the diferent dimensions
of students’ learning. While exams and quizzes have a place in measuring
skills, knowledge development and acquisition, many aspects of mathematical
learning could be more effectively measured by other means.
Principle 6: Students’ attitudes and beliefs about mathematics affect
their learning. Like with any type of learning, students have to maintain
wholesome attitudes and positive beliefs about mathematics. Students should
develop the attitude that engagement in mathematics is essential and that
perseverance, persistence, reflection, self-assessment and self-confidence are
keys to success. Students can learn from each other; cooperative work develops
a spirit of camaraderie, teamwork and common purpose. Working with other
students exposes students to multiple ways of solving and working with
Principle 7: Mathematics
learning needs the support of both parents and other community groups. Studies
have shown that parental and home support contribute to students’ success in
learning mathematics. Families should project positive attitudes and beliefs
toward mathematics and the learning of it. Community support for mathematics
learning is also as valuable. It is through the community that students could see
how mathematics is alive and utilized, particularly in day-to-day activities,
such as making purchases. Communities could provide useful resources and other
means for students to enhance their learning. To enhance students’
understanding of applications of mathematics, schools rely on local communities
for fieldwork and site visits. These activities expose students to the
realities of everyday mathematics at work.
The goals of mathematics education at the basic education
level remain, more or less, the same: “To provide opportunities for students to
develop skills and attitudes needed for effective participation in everyday
living and prepare them for further education and the world of work so that
they make worthwhile contributions to the society at large. Filipinos must do
better in mathematics and science if we want to be able to compete globally.
The author is
Teacher 3 at Magapit National High School in Cagayan province.
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