# Putting Math into Perspective

Putting Math into Perspective

Purpose: Use experiences of success that translate to learning math.

Putting Math into Perspective

One way to change the way you learn math is to compare it to one of your favorite hobbies or extracurricular activities. The following activities all relate to math in fundamental ways.

Math as a puzzle

Have you ever tried to put together a puzzle with one or more of the pieces missing? It becomes frustrating, especially if you think all the parts are there and, after hours and hours of work, the realize you won’t be able to finish. Puzzles are fickle that way. Each piece is crucial. If even a single piece is missing, you are left with an incomplete picture. This is also true when you are halfway through a math problem and find out you don’t know or have forgotten the rules for the next step. In order to solve math problems, you need to understand all the rules. In other subjects, you may forget some of the rules and still pass a test. In math, however, not knowing or forgetting one major concept often causes you to miss problems.

Math as a Foreign Language

Another way to study math is to treat is as a foreign language. Like a foreign language, math has unfamilir vocabulary words, which must be put in sentences called expressions or equations. Understanding and solving math problems is simimlar to speaking and undersntading a sentence in a foreign language. When read or spoken aloud, mathematical symbols are translated into words and sentences. If you don’t understand the symbols, you are in serious trouble.Learning how to speak math as a language is key to success. With this in mind, to stay fluent in a foreign language, you need to use it every day. Math is no different.

Math as a Sport

Learning math is similar to learning to play a sport such as basketball, track or football. In order to find success, you must actively practice. You can listen and watch your coach all day, but unless you practice those skills yourself, you will not learn and probably won’t even get into the game or meet.

For example, in basketball, the way to improve our free-throw percentage is to watch and understand the correct shooting form and then to actively practice the shots. If you simply listen to your coach describe it, but you do not practice the correct form yourself, you will never improve.

Math as a Musical Instrument

Learning math is like playing a musical instrument. To master a musical instrument, you need to understand music theory and learn the various hand-eye movements required to strike the right sound and tone. This involved lots of practice. You can watch someone play the piano, cello or electric guitar, watch their hands and hear the sounds, but unless you practice you will not learn how to play. Imagine how many concerts you have attended or seen on TV, or how many people you have watched play the guitar. Could you now go and play it? No. You need to practice before you can play well just like you have to practice math before you learn math.

Many of your other college courses can be learned by methods other than practicing. In social studies, for example, you can learn information by listening to your instructor, taking good notes and participating in class discussions. Many college students mistakenly believe they can approach math the same way.

Questions to answer

Which one of the comparisons is the most relatable to you? Choose one of the comparisons and explain how you can use it to improve your study habits.

Think of one of your hobbies or activities and explain how you can use your practice routine for this activity as an example for how to properly study math.

Explain, in your own words, why it is important to consistently study for math. What makes studying for math

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