Maths ‘bumps’


Maths is hard. Or is it?

I think there are plateaus and bumps where the change in difficulty puts people off.


Before progressing a simple example, adding sheep is quite easy, once one knows how (using fingers and counting)

sheep + sheep + sheep plus sheep sheep = 5 sheeps (Clarkson plural)

3 sheep + 2 sheep = 5 sheeps

And one gets excited to show parents, friends one can add sheeps. Therein lies a problem, feeling good, showing off and being on top ofa problem reinforcing ideas that addition is the be all and end all.

Then one has

2 sheeps – 3 sheeps = OOPS!

One often changes to the domain to borrow and lend and 2 -3 makes more sense:

I lend you 3 sheeps and you give me back 2 so I missing or down 1 sheep

2 sheeps – 3 sheeps = Missing 1 sheep or minus one.

Often the word ‘minus’ is introduced at the stage.

Back to the bumps. So here we have one of the first bumps in school mathematics. Once (if) overcome arguably the next is algebra, i.e. using letters instead of numbers. At the bottom of this article are some bumps to be mindful of.

Further reading

Talk to Paula