Math: friend turned foe

Sebastian Echeverry

Besides Financial Aid telling students their FAFSA didn’t go through, nothing scares college students more than math.

According to Angela Conley, department chair of science, engineering and math (SEM) said, “Student mindset, when it comes to mathematics, at Cerritos College is trying to create a positive mindset, an optimistic mindset, as far as mathematics goes helping students realize that it doesn’t matter what professor you have … it doesn’t mean you’re going to fail it.”

She added that there has been a negative spotlight that has been placed on the subject of math and she thinks that is the cause as to why math is seen as the villain to college success.

An analogy for the issue she got from a math professor says, it is almost embarrassing to declare one is illiterate, people try to hide that fact as much as they can; however, if one is to say they cannot do math, people agree and find it okay if someone struggles in math.

She said, “Math is a perishable skill, if you don’t work it, you won’t keep it.”

Coming in with a clear mind into math, forgetting about what others say about math, and getting the help needed like the Learning Resource Center is what Conley wants students to do to succeed.

She said the Math Club is also a resource that can help students ease into math by offering a free hour of math tutoring and surrounding themselves with people that like to do mathematics.

Math Learning Center tutor, Desiree Rodriguez, is constantly talking and working one-on-one with students.

Rodriguez meets with students four days a week.

She said, “[Students] are not familiar with math vocabulary and it gives them a lot of problems with word problems and that’s a big challenge in early mathematics.”

She added that writing multiplication problems down and counting on fingers is acceptable to do.

According to Professor Mark Hugen, mathematics is a language that is universal and it takes practice to get it right.

He said, “People will acknowledge the fact that I can’t do math, but they won’t acknowledge they have trouble reading for example.”

Conley and Hugen believe the cloud of negativity that has surrounded math stems from students telling each other certain math classes or math professors are impossible to follow.

Hugen said, “Math is a language, it’s not a natural language, it’s one you have to learn, you have to learn the letters, the numbers and know the relationships they have with each other.”