Is It Time To Change How We Teach Math?

Personalized learning is something that educators of all kinds are striving for. A teacher who can make learning real, relevant, and appropriate for each student in their class is one who can see amazing successes and empowered students. But with too many students and too little time, making learning as personalized as possible isn’t always easy. 

The handy infographic below uses learning to drive as a great example of personalized learning. When you learn to drive, you’re basically having a personalized, one on one instruction with real time observation and feedback. Can you imagine if students could learn math that way? Keep reading to learn more!

Why Learn Math Like You Learn To Drive?

This infographic explores “traditional teaching” as compared with teaching “focused on the point of learning”

Teaching focused on the point of learning:

  • Demonstrates the skill
  • Watches the student perform the skill
  • Observes and gives critical feedback
  • Ensures testing is practically applied

Traditional teaching:

  • Demonstrates the skill
  • Students practice the skill on their own, with little feedback
  • Testing is less about demonstrating that the student has acquired the practical skill
  • Many “life and death” professions are taught in the “focused on the point of learning” method, with one on one training and feedback (like surgeons and pilots)
  • Children who excel in math in elementary school are twice as likely to find employment as adults, achieve higher levels of education, and earn more money in their lifetimes
  • America’s GDP is estimated to increase by $77trillion if students in the US could increase their math scores to be equal to those of students in Canada
  • Only 41% of 4th graders scored proficient in mathematics in 2013
  • Only 24% of 8th graders scored proficient in mathematics in 2013
  • US students consistently perform poorly in math despite increased spending per student



  1. Canadian Educator

    April 2, 2014 at 7:23 am

    STOP! Do not use Canada as your model for changing your math programs. It is true that our math scores are higher than yours it is also true that they have been on a steady decline for about 5 years. We have not found the right balance between traditional math and discovery math. The solution above includes one on one teaching which is a great idea if cost was not an issue. Cost is an issue. Find a practical (cost effective)solution that combines teaching traditional foundational skills and allows for creativity but neither should be at the expense of the other. Traditional math skills have been taught in the drill and kill format for years. With technology we can now provide the same principles in a more fun and engaging format and make learning the basics into a drill and thrill format. When you get it right please tell us how to do it.

  2. Trista

    June 10, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Your infographic is very convincing, and it made me really stop and think about how I teach math. The driving analogy was terrific, and it is something everyone can relate with. I have taken a more involved approach with math this year. I have been having students use whiteboard markers and doing their work on their tables, then writing their answer on a small whiteboard and holding it up to show me. This way I am able to give them instant feedback, and if there is an error, I can go back and look at their work written with dry erase markers on their tables and help them resolve their issue.