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

learning mathematics.

**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

mathematics.

**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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