Research has proven that Mathematics is not difficult, it is just that students do not want to persevere or ‘stay with’ a problem or formula long enough to get it. Some could argue that there are those that are gifted in the left side of their brains consequently, they find it easier to get the Mathematical concepts. One of the major hindrances to getting the Mathematical concepts right is the very first time an idea or formula is taught. If not done correctly (as in most cases, I am a living witness) or if not totally understood, then the basis for the ‘Math Blues’ begins there and then. Because there is usually a rush to move on to the next topic and the next in order to finish the syllabus, the stage is set for failure, no topic is well understood and yet most topics are related so you totally need a good foundation to build on!
Having said that, what can one do to remember formulas that are needed to solve Mathematical exercises? There are no ‘set in’ stone rules but many students and teachers advise some of the following.
- Practice makes perfect and in this case permanent. I am sorry but there are no two ways about it! You must repeatedly go over what you have learned many times to enable the idea move to the long-term memory. To do this some people write down formulas several times until they can write them without looking. Flash cards also come in handy in this subject. Using different colors for the cards, highlighting and bolding the fonts will aid your memory of all those formulas.
Also, sticking the concepts and formulas you have to learn on the surfaces where you can easily look at them numerous times during the day will do much in embedding the formulas in your memory!
- Creating a story out of a Mathematical formula will definitely make it stick for life in your memory.
For example, the formula for measuring the volume of a cylinder:pi × r2 × Height.
Your very short story derived out of this would be: I bought a pie with two ribbons wrapped around its height.
Another basic formula;Perimeter of a rectangle: l + w + l + w, can become: When you are in a box, you must look(l) and watch(w) and then look(l) and watch(w) some more!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor