How Can You Make Mathematics Fun?

My school days are now just a distant memory and in truth, not a particularly positive one.  There always seemed to be a ‘them and us’ culture between the students and teachers. Thankfully, school has changed a lot in recent years.  Students are encouraged to be expressive and experiment with their ideas.  Expressive thoughts and ideas were less welcome in my day.  Teachers tended to prefer a quiet environment with them fully in control.

One of the biggest factors of this generally unhealthy atmosphere back then was the fact that lessons were often very boring, this led to student unrest and even more discipline.  It was a bit of a vicious circle.  Most lessons involved learning from textbooks and trying to interpret the teacher’s blackboard scribblings.

The textbooks often contained pages upon pages of unbroken text.  I remember how I used to thumb forward to find any pictures.  They felt like a rare oasis in a barren desert.

I think maths was probably the worst.  The nearest you came to a picture was a line drawing of a triangle or circle with some unintelligible formulaic equation sitting next to it in an intimidating way.  I couldn’t understand why we were doing it and for what purpose.  It often felt more like a punishment than actually learning anything useful, especially when I opened a logarithm table book.  Pages upon pages of seemingly random numbers.  I don’t ever recall actually using it and couldn’t remember what it was for, before googling it.  They were dull and summed up my thoughts on maths at the time.  Eventually, electronic calculators came along to hasten their demise.

Yes, I hated maths then, but now I don’t.  Now I can see its relevance and regularly use it to work out measurements, quantities and so on.  Maths isn’t boring it was just the way it was taught and the lack of resources, at the time.  Now I realise it can even be fun!  I recently discovered some educational retro-style games online for improving your maths.  How I wish I’d learned this way!

The first game I got stuck into is called Math Boy.  Although it may primarily be aimed at kids and students, it’s really good whatever your age to help improve your maths.

The game is simply a multiple-choice maths game.  To begin with, you are presented with five options, they are addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and a combination of all four.  Once you make your choice, you are given a sum to solve, and four possible answers are displayed.  You only get a few seconds to respond.  Answer correctly and the boy swishes his sword to slay the minion.  You are then awarded a point and move on to the next question.  Answer incorrectly or take too long and the minion reaches the boy and it’s game over.

The sums start off relatively easy but become progressively more difficult and the time pressure can easily cause you to slip up.  Try and move on to the combination option once you get the hang of it, for a proper mental workout!

If you prefer something a bit more fast-paced with an element of chaos then Wooppy may be for you.  This game is pretty self-explanatory.  You’re given a target number which you have to equal by clicking the balloons.  Each balloon displays a number which adds to your sum as you click.  If you go over the target then it’s game over.  There are three levels of difficulty.  I’ve never progressed beyond easy level so good luck!

So if like me, maths represents something of a dark shadow from your past.  Be afraid no longer!  Maths is really useful but if you don’t practise you can easily become rusty at it.  But thanks to these sorts of games, improving your skills really can be fun!

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