Are you wondering whether Maths and Science are really worth taking to matric? Well, we will be investigating why these subjects are actually important for your future…
Maths and Science are often considered the most difficult subjects that can be taken in high school. Yet they have a serious impact on what you are able to do after you complete your schooling career.
Why do maths and science have a negative reputation?
Maths and Science are set on a pedestal from a young age. How often have you heard the phrase: “Oh, Thandi is so smart, because she gets the best marks in maths class”? This is because we are brought up expecting maths to be difficult. Therefore, succeeding in Maths is what makes you one of the smart people. In the same way, NOT being good at Maths – even in primary school – has come to mean that you are not one of the smart people. This can have an extremely negative effect on anyone’s outlook on this subject as well as its close relative: Science.
Another obstacle that can stand in the way of a positive perception of Maths is the fact that it comes with a requirement. If you fail Maths, you will fail the year. This view can add extra pressure, especially if you are already struggling.
Finally, Maths and Science are absolute in their correctness. This means that there is no subjectivity to the final answer; only one truth. This can really break down one’s confidence about being able to achieve in a subject where one always gets negative feedback. Nobody likes to be wrong and there is always a 50% chance of that with these subjects.
So, what makes maths and science so difficult?
Bearing in mind the negative perception these subjects have, both Maths and Science also require memorisation AND application of concepts. Whereas other subjects will often require one or the other. Not all people are immediately excellent at both which makes these subjects appear more difficult.
Maths and Science are also often cumulative since they build on earlier concepts and algorithms. For instance, you need to know how addition works before you can understand multiplication. This can make it difficult for those who have missed an early concept to fully grasp a later, more complex concept.
How can teachers encourage more interest in maths and science?
As a society, we imprint the idea that Maths and Science are difficult subjects in young people’s minds, when we should rather be looking to encourage their involvement in Maths and Science.
Teachers, this is where you come in – it’s time to shake things up. One of the simplest ways to help people remember a concept is to show it to them in an interesting way. For example, to explain the base concept of a circle in geometry, a teacher could bring a round pie to class and cut it into portions. This could help to break the monotony of school life and give the learners a lesson to remember. If there is a focus on making the foundation lessons of maths memorable, it will help learners remember and understand those core fundamentals.
With Science, it might be a little bit easier to do this because it tends to be a practical application of maths. To explain a core concept of something like velocity, a teacher could take the learners to a road near the school and have them measure how long it takes a vehicle to move across a certain distance. These kinds of examples help learners see the practical application of Maths and Science at a base level, which can help them see its relevance in the wider world.
Not only was Maths Lit introduced as an alternative to Pure Maths. It’s also viewed by many learners and critics as the easier counterpart to Pure Maths as it does not involve as much problem solving as well as critical and analytical thinking.
It is also important for a teacher to pinpoint where a learner is missing a core concept early on. This will help the teacher to find a way to help the learners grasp the content before they move onto more complicated work. It can also assist learners in changing their perception of having to face the subject alone.
Teachers also need to ensure that they put an emphasis on partial marks to encourage learners to show the steps of their calculations. While learners may see this as tedious, it actually has a psychological impact, as it creates a space for learners to discover their mistakes. This is a better alternative to a marking system where only the correct answer matters…
Which opportunities will I be missing out on without maths or science?
When talking about Maths and Science, a phrase often used is that they have no real-world applications. Therefore, they are not worth the effort. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case. The following is a list of just some of the career fields that require Maths and Science:
- Information Technology
- Production and Manufacturing
- Software Development
In order to study any of the above, you will require a strong understanding of Maths and Science. As part of their entrance criteria, Universities, Universities of Technology and TVET Colleges all put a strong emphasis on the importance of having done Maths and Science at school. The 50 TVET Colleges that we have in South Africa won’t even consider you for a course if you have not achieved the required 40% for pure Maths. Universities will give some credit for having completed Maths literacy, but will also stop learners from applying for any sort of Science or engineering courses.
In addition to this, any apprenticeships in the Finance or Engineering sectors are also no longer an option, since they would require a strong understanding of Maths.
Now that we know this information, it’s clear how important it is for teachers and counsellors to help make learners fully aware of the decisions that they are making. This includes information on the impact those decisions can have on future opportunities.
If maths and science are so important, why am I given the option to drop them?
If you are intending to go into the Arts or Social Sciences fields, then taking Maths Literacy will be fine for you as pure Maths is not required for these fields of study. Maths and Science are subjects which require logical thinking. This type of thought process and learning is not for everyone. If you are struggling with these subjects in grade 9, it best to give some serious thought to what type of career you would like to pursue after school. From there, you will be able to assess whether you really need to take pure Maths and Science. These subjects will aid you in studying a variety of courses, including those in the scare skills field.
Maths is becoming more and more problematic for many learners in high school. Read the differences between Pure Maths and Maths Lit as well as what opportunities are available for each choice. This is an easy-to-understand infographic which you can download for FREE.
Life after high school is not a walk in the park. Having pure Maths and/or Science on your matric certificate can really make the tertiary application process easier. If you have any desire to study at a tertiary level, it is important to consider entry requirements before dismissing Maths and Science as subjects. Trust us.
“The essence of mathematics is not to make simple things complicated, but to make complicated things simple.”