Give Them Confidence

Sometimes I wish that I could take the confidence I have in myself to do academic work, bottle it up in over a hundred mini capsules and just give it to my learners to drink, mix into their food or even spray it on like a perfume or cologne. That is my greatest challenge in my Mathematics/ Math Literacy classes. My learners are amazing and beautiful people who could do so many things if they only believed and trusted their own brains and thoughts to solve a problem.

I tell my learners that they have to struggle in order to learn. They look at me like I am some mad woman who wants to see them suffer and never succeed in anything that they do. Obviously that will never be true, however much they believe the contrary.

How it works is that our brains tend to remember the challenges and the hardships more easily than we remember the smooth sailing moments. I really do love it when I see young minds thinking and grappling with a question. Although they do not always get it, as a teacher you have to decern when is it a good time to alleviate the pain or keep pressing (side not: I am still learning every day), when I see that lightbulb moment on their faces that says “I get it now!!” That is a happy moment for me.

In class, I am always saying “Try!”, “What do you think, because I actually care?”, “How would you approach this question?”, “Trust yourself!”, “Y’all are geniuses!”, “Thank you to so and so for getting us there!” I might not be able to bottle up confidence, but I can affirm it. What a powerful tool that has been. I have seen quiet learners ask to stand up and go to the board to give an answer. I have had moments with learners teaching me their way of solving a problem. It’s cute that they don’t see the similarities in my method and theirs but I will say “wow” to anything if it gets them to the correct answer and boosts their confidence in their abilities, provided that it they can prove that it will work for all similar situations. Then it brings such joy to my heart when they say “We really enjoy this topic.” That’s good, not everyone can love every topic but we have to get through them all.

“Mathematics is subject that you cannot learn from just anywhere for example grade 10. It needs a solid foundation [from your early development years]”

— Prof. Jansen

To explain the quote above, there is no way that any child can learn about all the mathematical functions f(x) etc. in grades 10 – 12 without first understanding the relationship between variables (x and y), before that they would have to understand how inputs and outputs operate and how patterns are created and the mere fact that it is something that is repeated over and over, before that its the basic understanding of numbers and operations, all of which would have or should have begun in primary education. I guess what we could say is that children need a healthy dose of mathematics every day, every year in order to develop the understanding for it and how each topic develops year on year.

The confidence is derived from the foundation and it has to be really strong in order to progress. The issues I pick up every day, one could say that they are pandemic related as an easy way out, but really they are mostly foundational and the pandemic just enhanced the issues.

We have a long way to go to get to the standard that we want to to be able to compare globally. At the moment the amount of true passes in Mathematics in the country sits at approximately 23%, sad right? It starts with getting the fooundation solid so that learners are able to progress confidently to open whatever doors they wish to open with minimal hassle. What do you think?

Thank you for your time. Have a blessed week ahead.

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Love, light and appreciation!

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