Why don't students like math?
Private tutoring : "I don't know math at all!"
At school - and also now with tutoring - there is a rule for Helmut Helmer: "If students don't understand something, it is usually not their fault - then as a teacher I have to think about my method." many possibilities, also through digital media. They could not replace good pedagogy, but they could be an enrichment and good support. For example the tutorials on Youtube. Helmut Helmer recently watched a video himself in order to better explain how the substitution rule works.
And there is one more thing that Helmut Helmer, as a teacher, kept saying to himself: “Not everyone learns the same way.” That is why he has tried to teach differently in his classes, to pick everyone up at their respective level as far as possible. For example, he offered tasks of varying degrees of difficulty both in class and with homework, and motivated the higher-performing students to support the less strong. “Of course there are limits to this kind of thing in a class of 30 students - but a lot can be done,” he is convinced. If, on the other hand, you follow the lessons according to a fixed pattern, too many will fall by the wayside.
Shortly before the Abitur exam, some are afraid of a total failure in mathematics
It is not uncommon for young people from high school to come to him who have already lost touch with the material in middle school and now do not know how to pass the Abitur examination. You would have the feeling that you could not do anything anymore, and now you are afraid of a total failure.
But it's usually not that bad after all. Helmer's approach is to get the students to concentrate on their strengths - not to look at what is not possible, but at what they can. To do this, however, the students would first have to learn to assess their own performance. "When they know what they can do, motivation increases and they have a sense of achievement."
Mathematics had a higher priority in the GDR
Ultimately, they could have more fun with mathematics. And then maybe that anti-math attitude that Helmer observes so often would also disappear. And which annoys him: “In some talk shows at some point it's about school and then quickly about who had the most terrible math experience. And it does happen that personalities from politics and society boast about being stuck because of math. "
In the GDR, says Helmer, it was different. The subject had a higher priority here. Anyone who wanted to become something in a production company had to be good at maths. The practical relevance was also stronger in the classroom. Helmut Helmer himself always tried to convey to his students the everyday relevance of the subject.
Looking for new ways of teaching mathematics
When terms such as “outdoor learning” or “research-based learning” didn't even exist, Helmer introduced a “math internship” in his classes just before the summer holidays, for example. Schoolchildren went outside in groups to calculate how long the cables would have to be that were to be laid under the school or how high the school building would be. "For that you need everything: angle measurement, Pythagorean theorem, triangle calculation."
Mathematics is in everything - and that is probably the reason why Helmut Helmer will continue to receive students in the afternoon and count on them.
He likes to do that, but he would prefer something else: "If I didn't have to give any more tutoring, but if the lessons at school were so differentiated and varied that everyone understood mathematics according to their abilities and enjoyed it." the schools would need a lot more staff and financial support.
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