Mathematics is taught in schools to help students increase their ability to calculate, use logic correctly, exercise critical thinking, become comfortable with the abstract, and, most fundamentally, learn how to reason. All these basic skills are vital for success, no matter what kind of career a student eventually winds up in. To be mathematically illiterate, to be able to do little more than add, subtract, multiply, and simple division, is considered a handicap in today’s world — severely limiting a person’s ability to function productively in the workplace and sometimes even in private life.
Yet the old bugaboo remains: How to teach children to become not just comfortable with mathematics, but proficient as well. Educational theories abound as to the best and most efficient way to do this — everything from the so-called New Math workbook exercises to teaching fifth graders how to use a Chinese abacus. The urgency of teaching the rising generation how to do calculus, geometry, and algebra, is that today’s technology is based to a large extent on mathematical concepts and constructs, such as the algorithm. Without a solid knowledge of basic mathematical fields, young adults will find themselves hobbled when it comes to dealing with the mathematical reality that surrounds them.
Since it’s technology that voraciously demands the ability to understand and use mathematics, it only makes sense that technology be employed in teaching children, teenagers, and young adults first the rudiments and then the advanced concepts and theories of mathematics. Interactive screen time with programs like Get Me Apps specifically designed to let users learn and then use mathematical principles in gaming situations has proven to be one of the most successful teaching models so far. It takes advantage of young people’s built-in desire for game play; in order to ‘win’ their cyber game they must first learn the mathematical rules that apply, and then go after the prize. Instead of killing zombies, children can now spend their time using elementary calculus to ascend gaming levels. When play is coupled with knowledge, students always benefit.