January 2012

Math and Taxes

I have never been happier to know the ins and out of math, then during tax time. While most people have their taxes done by professionals, I choose to do it myself. It's not like I get much of a refund anyway.

As a self employed contract worker, I don't have the luxury of the 1040 EZ or having taxes automatically deducted every paycheck. I have to estimate my taxes and send it to the IRS occasionally and hope when the year ends that I have sent enough that I don't end up owing a ton.

This is where my love of math comes in. If anyone has ever had the luxury of filling out their own taxes, they realize that it's about as straight forward as a J.J. Abram's television series. You jump from line to line, adding here and subtracting there. You fill in one line, skip down to another multiply it by the age of your mother's cousin and voila, you're done.

Are Math Centers Worth It?

I live in a small area, but learning centers such as Sylvan are popping up and in urban area curriculum specific centers are everywhere. Everyone knows that math isn't easy for most people. We struggle with it for various reasons, so parents are flocking to these centers, hoping to give their children an extra edge.

There are a ton of different programs out there. Some focus on practice and repetitions, while other use less traditional methods. They all have one thing in common – the cost money. This is perfectly fine for people with the extra income, but in these tough economic times that's not many. Yet, dozens if not hundreds of students in large cities are receiving the help of these centers. Is it worth it?

The evidence is confusing to say the least. Isn't this the exact same thing they can receive at home for free. Are parents so overwhelmed and busy with life and work that they can't sit down for an hour or so every couple of days and help out their children with math?

WAR...Hoo...What Is It Good For...Teaching Math

When I was growing up, one of the games my mom would play with me is War. Remember War? You and an opponent lay down cards and the player with the higher valued card wins them both. When the cards had the same values, then a “war” would break out and the player who had the higher valued card won them all. Things got crazy when you actually played into the rare double and triple “wars.”

Besides the friendly competition of the game, it taught and reinforced basic counting skills, and forced me to think and compare the numbers as quickly as I could so the game would continue. Sure, mom could have helped me out, but she wanted me to get more out of the game than just entertainment.

As I got older, my mom changed the rules of the game on me. Instead of winning by having the highest card, she turned it into a multiplication game. Playing was a little different, of course. To start, we used two separate decks with the face cards removed. Then during each round, we each laid down two cards each and had to multiply them together. Whichever player had the higher total was the winner of the round. If the products matched, then a “war” was on. Each player would put down four more cards, two facing down. The product of the two cards facing up would be the determining factor of who won all the cards, including the first four. That was a major win!

Trouble With Math Could Mean A Learning Disorder

It's no secret that math is a difficult subject to master for many people. Some people have a difficult time mastering even the most basic math concepts such as addition and subtraction. For many, it's simply a issue with ability.

Math is a subject that just doesn't come naturally to them, and it takes extra work and study for them to understand. This is doubly true for more difficult concepts like multiplication and division. Occasionally, a difficulty in understanding math can mean something more such as a learning disorder.

It's by no means the only marker, but being unable to follow class and concentrate on homework can mean a possible learning disorder. People with dyslexia may have problems properly seeing the numbers on the paper or blackboard. When they try to solve the equations, they can't make them out correctly.