Mathematics is one of the most fundamental branches of science and is widely considered as an essential tool for solving problems across various fields. It plays a crucial role in many aspects of our lives, from simple daily calculations to complex scientific research and developments. It has the capability to give us new insights into the world around us, provide us with a deeper understanding of phenomena, and even help us solve some of the world’s biggest problems. However, behind every mathematical breakthrough or innovation lies the importance of mathematical backgrounds.
What are Mathematical Backgrounds?
Mathematical backgrounds refer to the foundational knowledge and principles that an individual possesses in mathematics, including algebra, calculus, geometry, and trigonometry, among others. It represents the basis of an individual’s mathematical skills and knowledge, allowing them to solve problems that require mathematical reasoning.
The majority of degree programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields require at least a basic understanding of mathematical concepts. Without a strong foundation in mathematics, individuals might struggle in these areas, preventing them from fully understanding the complexities of these fields.
Importance of Mathematical Backgrounds
Mathematical backgrounds are essential for success in various fields, most notably in STEM fields. With an increased emphasis on STEM education, mathematics has become a vital component of promoting academic excellence and professional success. Below are some of the reasons why mathematical backgrounds are essential.
For Academic Achievement:
A study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) demonstrated that countries that offered more rigorous and challenging mathematics curriculums had higher academic achievement levels in Science, Mathematics, and Reading. Therefore, highly developed mathematical backgrounds can lead to improved academic performance and a better understanding of the world around us.
For Career Progression:
A strong mathematical background opens up various career opportunities in fields such as finance, engineering, data analysis, and computer science, among others. In these fields, having advanced mathematical skills and knowledge is vital for success and career progression.
Mathematics is the language of problem-solving, and those with strong mathematical backgrounds are often more adept at problem-solving across various fields. A well-developed background in mathematics provides individuals with the logical and analytical skills that allow them to tackle complicated problems systematically, as well as the ability to comprehend abstract concepts.
For Scientific Research:
Scientific research in fields such as physics, meteorology, and other science fields rely heavily on mathematics. In these fields, an understanding of mathematical models is crucial in developing new theories, improving existing ones, and contributing to new scientific breakthroughs.
Barriers to Developing Mathematical Backgrounds
Various factors can limit an individual’s development of mathematical backgrounds, making it more difficult to succeed in STEM fields. Below are some of the challenges faced by students in developing mathematical backgrounds.
Lack of Resources:
Students from less privileged backgrounds might not have access to the same resources that those from more affluent families or countries have, limiting their opportunity to learn essential mathematical skills. This lack of access to resources can leave students unprepared for mathematically challenging coursework and can be a significant obstacle in their academic progression.
Teaching styles and methods can differ, and some teachers might not be well-equipped to teach mathematics effectively, which could lead to students losing motivation or becoming disinterested in the field. This situation can worsen if students are not in an environment that fosters academic thinking, interest in math, and curiosity.
The Pervasiveness of Negative Stereotypes:
Social stereotypes surrounding mathematics can discourage students from pursuing this subject. These stereotypes can lead to insecurities about their mathematical abilities and lead to a lack of motivation and interest in the field.
The Future of Mathematical Backgrounds
Given the increasing importance of mathematical backgrounds, various initiatives have been taken to promote its learning. For instance, some schools have implemented creative teaching methods such as project-based learning, and maths camps targeted at groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields have been introduced to overcome barriers to developing mathematical backgrounds.
Moreover, online educational environments such as Khan Academy have been developed, providing anyone with access to the internet the opportunity to learn maths for free. The availability of resources on the internet has made it possible for a more considerable number of people to gain access to learning materials about maths worldwide.
Mathematics plays a fundamental role in a vast range of fields, and the foundation of success in mathematics lies in a strong mathematical background. In summary, having a well-developed mathematical background can lead to several benefits, such as academic achievement, career progression, problem-solving skills and contribution to scientific research. However, there are several significant barriers to developing mathematical backgrounds.
With the current emphasis on the importance of STEM education, international efforts have been put in place to promote improved, holistic approaches towards the learning of mathematics, with the goal of breaking down barriers and improving mathematical backgroundsSources:
1. “A Mathematician’s Lament” by Paul Lockhart
2. “The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions” by Andrew Hacker