Christian Author: Nancy W. Boyer

How is your MATH? Mine was Robbed

You may ask me, “How is YOUR math?”   Well, if I have a calculator, I’m good at a store or figuring up my bank account.  After that, forget it!  Sometimes I even count on my fingers…oh my goodness…that stinks!    I admire those, however, who are excellent in that area.  We’ll take a look in this blog at the reasons young people often have trouble with math and some new findings of the history of mathematic development.

First I would like to explain why I am a writer and not a scientist or mathematician with a high paying salary.   My math teacher in high school sat on his desk talking football with the male students. At the time I was too young and intimidated to go to the Principal and say, “This man is standing in the way of my future…my life…my profession…my God-given potential…my everything for he is a MATH ROBBER!

Needless to say, I did not learn higher math.  In fact, I was lucky to learn enough math in my high school to enter college.    I focused more on literature and writing skills, which became my interest and forte.    I’m not unhappy about that for I love to write and as I practiced, this area became my strength.  Probably the reason for this is because my English Literature and writing teachers were skilled at actually teaching rather than talking about extracurricular school activities.   I appreciate their dedication.   One writing teacher actually read my essay in front of the class, giving me an “A” in content and a “D” in the actual written paper.  That, of course, was before Spell Check and the newest wrinkle that I love called Grammarly.   It practically thinks ahead of the writer and makes corrective suggestions with a blink of the eye.   However, I haven’t found anything this efficient with math.

Math is often associated with the sciences so it was no wonder that my Physical Science Survey college course was a “bear” to me in college.  I remember going back to the professor and begging for after-class tutoring, which he willingly gave me.  When my grades came in, it was a “D” which I think was my lowest grade ever…but he had mercy on my efforts.  Thank You, kind Sir.

What exactly are the studies of pure mathematics?   Here is a short list:

  • Algebra.
  • Calculus and analysis.
  • Geometry and topology.
  • Combinatorics.
  • Logic.
  • Number theory.
  • Dynamical systems and differential equations.
  • Mathematical physics

If you have a child or grandchild that is having difficulty with math. The goal is to bring them from frustration into confidence. Boy!  I could have used some confidence when learning math.

These might be some of the reasons for student difficulty.

Signs of Math Difficulties

Output Difficulties

A student with problems in output may

  • be unable to recall basic math facts, procedures, rules, or formulas
  • be very slow to retrieve facts or pursue procedures
  • have difficulties maintaining precision during mathematical work
  • have difficulties with handwriting that slow down written work or make it hard to read later
  • have difficulty remembering previously encountered patterns
  • forget what he or she is doing in the middle of a math problem

Organizational Difficulties

A student with problems in organization may

  • have difficulties sequencing multiple steps
  • become entangled in multiple steps or elements of a problem
  • lose appreciation of the final goal and over emphasize individual elements of a problem
  • not be able to identify salient aspects of a mathematical situation, particularly in word problems or other problem-solving situations where some information is not relevant
  • be unable to appreciate the appropriateness or reasonableness of solutions generated

Language Difficulties

A student with language problems in math may

  • have difficulty with the vocabulary of math
  • be confused by the language in word problems
  • not know when irrelevant information is included or when information is given out of sequence
  • have trouble learning or recalling abstract terms
  • have difficulty understanding directions
  • have difficulty explaining and communicating about math, including asking and answering questions
  • have difficulty reading texts to direct their own learning
  • have difficulty remembering assigned values or definitions in specific problems

Attention Difficulties

A student with attention problems in math may

  • be distracted or fidgety during math tasks
  • lose his or her place while working on a math problem
  • appear mentally fatigued or overly tired when doing math

Visual Spatial or Ordering Difficulties

A student with problems in visual, spatial, or sequential aspects of mathematics may

  • be confused when learning multi-step procedures
  • have trouble ordering the steps used to solve a problem
  • feel overloaded when faced with a worksheet full of math exercises
  • not be able to copy problems correctly
  • may have difficulties reading the hands on an analog clock
  • may have difficulties interpreting and manipulating geometric configurations
  • may have difficulties appreciating changes in objects as they are moved in space

Difficulties with multiple tasks

A student with problems managing and/or merging different tasks in math may

  • find it difficult to switch between multiple demands in a complex math problem
  • find it difficult to tell when tasks can be grouped or merged and when they must be separated in a multi-step math problem
  • cannot manage all the demands of a complex problem, such as a word problem, even though he or she may know component facts and procedures    (Taken from Misunderstood Minds)

There was one mathematical genius who had a lot to say about living as well as math.  Here are a few thoughts that Albert Einstein left to us:

Because I love anything creative, I really like this one:

Albert Einstein and creativity

We once thought that most of our higher mathematics, like trigonometry, came from the mathematic scholars of ancient Greece. Now there seems to be evidence that Babylonian mathematicians may have been the source that first developed the higher math which resulted in the ability to create some of the world’s greatest structures.  It was definite that in mathematics the Babylonians excelled.

They also had the first development of: 360 degrees in a circle, 60 minutes in an hour, decimal system, and square roots.

“Theoretical mathematics intrigued them and a large number of texts involving geometry and algebra of a quite sophisticated sort has been preserved. The theorems of Euclid and Pythagoras were already known in the Old Babylonian period.MATH19.gif

As their civilization developed the Sumerians developed the need for a numerical system. They needed it for measurements and business transactions and for all the other requirements a civilized society has. From these beginnings, Babylonian mathematics arose and was soon highly developed. The Sumerians and thus the Babylonians were one of the first peoples to have some fairly complex mathematics, some of which were not learned in parts of the world until recent centuries. Babylonian influence can still be clearly seen in such things as the measurement of time and degrees of angles.The Babylonian numerical system was sexagesimal i.e. base sixty. This is why there are 60 minutes in an hour and 360 degrees in a circle. Strangely the Babylonians by the time of Hammurapi also had symbols for ten, one hundred and one thousand making their system part decimal. The Babylonians were very advanced for their time. They knew about square roots and completing the square and they knew the value of p quite accurately.” (

Did the Babylonians know the Pythagoras’ Theorem?

“Some argue that scribes in Old Babylonian period knew Pythagoras’ theorem 1,000 years before he did. The most famous tablets here – one showing a square with two diagonals, and Plimpton 322 containing a table of numerical symbols – suggests that the Babylonians knew at least some of the consequences of the theorem [3]. Whether they derived the proof as Pythagoras did, it is unknown.”   (Ancient

abylonian tablet bearing a rough sketch of a square and its diagonals, and Pythagoras and his theorem

A Babylonian tablet bearing a rough sketch of a square and its diagonals, and Pythagoras and his theorem

brickwork lion on Babylonian Ishtar's Gate an Pythagorean Proof

Brickwork lion on Babylonian Ishtar’s Gate

 from UNSW    Published on Aug 24, 2017

UNSW Sydney scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, most likely used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces, temples and stepped pyramids. 


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