Can anyone learn advanced maths? (Researches)

  • #101
992
127
The impression I get from them is that they are giving a substantial amount of effort for very little progress. Is that a better way to word it?

Perhaps, just saying they were probably doing something wrong is more likely.
 
  • #102
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
21,312
5,153
Perhaps, just saying they were probably doing something wrong is more likely.

I'm not sure what you mean by this.
 
  • #103
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,868
964
And I've tutored people who simply did not make any appreciable progress in their math skills despite their best effort.

Please don't take this personally, but have you thought about the possibility that some of the students you tutored did not make any appreciable progress because you were not tutoring them effectively?

I raise this point because when we talk about their "best" effort (or as you clarified it, substantial amount of effort), they may well be putting in their efforts in ineffective ways. Also, people can approach the same problem from different vantage points (some learn by repetition, others learn by example, still others learn by visualization, etc.). If you don't teach or tutor them in ways that customize their particular style of learning, they may not always be able to pick up on the material.
 
  • #104
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
21,312
5,153
Please don't take this personally, but have you thought about the possibility that some of the students you tutored did not make any appreciable progress because you were not tutoring them effectively? I raise this point because when we talk about their "best" effort (or as you clarified it, substantial amount of effort), they may well be putting in their efforts in an ineffective way. Also, people can approach the same problem from different vantage points (some learn by repetition, others learn by example, still others learn by visualization). If you don't teach or tutor them in ways that customize their particular way of learning, they may not always be able to pick up on the material.

Furthermore, learning isn't necessarily linear. Students can struggle for long periods without making any visible, apparent progress and then suddenly things "click" -- anecdotally I've seen this occur among numerous students.

I'm not talking about people who are stuck on, say, the chain rule in calculus. I'm talking about people that have serious difficulty doing anything with math. People who come in day after day and struggle immensely at even understanding what a simple problem is asking them to do. People who can't even comprehend a simple abstract concept like a variable.

Note that I've tutored students in a sort of 'special needs' program in college, and I've also tutored people who weren't. In both areas I've encountered people like I described above. The difference is that most of the people in the latter group are effectively 'normal' in other areas despite being abysmal at math.

I'd also like to point out that I myself was part of this program in college, as I have serious difficulty writing papers and dealing with things that are heavily language-based. So I can tell you from firsthand experience that if there isn't a hard limit to someone's skill at something, the effort vs progress graph can certainly be logarithmic.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes symbolipoint
  • #105
symbolipoint
Homework Helper
Education Advisor
Gold Member
6,441
1,316
Is this topic making any progress yet?

Can anyone learn advanced maths? (Researches)

I have no "researches" to refer to. I'd say "advanced Mathematics" might be anything beyond the range of typical university Calculus 1, 2, 3. Below this range of courses may be Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, College Algebra (part of "Pre-Calculus"). I'll take Drakkith's statement on it (Can anyone learn advanced maths?). His statement is based on his own learning, and on teaching or tutoring experience. One should try teaching or tutoring, to be more familiar what that is like.
 
  • #106
FactChecker
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,575
2,644
Many people who have contributed comments here, including me, have reached their own limits in spite of years of effort. I know people who easily went beyond my abilities. I have attributed that to a difference in raw intelligence. When someone says that it would just take me more time I have to remind them that, at my age, time will eventually run out.

I have known for a long time that I have always had a weaker memory than most people. I often have to derive or be reminded of facts that others can remember without help. That translates into a serious handicap in learning. I believe that this fact is undeniable in spite of what anyone else thinks.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes symbolipoint and pinball1970
  • #107
pinball1970
Gold Member
963
1,052
Many people who have contributed comments here, including me, have reached their own limits in spite of years of effort. I know people who easily went beyond my abilities. I have attributed that to a difference in raw intelligence. When someone says that it would just take me more time I have to remind them that, at my age, time will eventually run out.

I have known for a long time that I have a weaker memory than most people. I often have to derive or be reminded of facts that others can remember without help. That translates into a serious handicap in learning. I believe that this fact is undeniable in spite of what anyone else thinks.


That is an important point.


Memory is essential in building on concepts, if you can’t remember the details of concept one you have to back track before you can proceed to concept two

why not take it further?

What about special needs kids? Kids with learning difficulties? This has been touched on, what did they do wrong? What did their parents do wrong?

Did the kids not apply themselves? Did they need to go on a time management course?


Some of those kids will leave school at 16 with a basic understanding of maths and English and nothing much else.


Flawed as it is the IQ bell curve tells a story, genes don’t give us calculus but they do build brains.


No one is saying the average Joe cannot do well in life (and I am speaking from a position of lofty mediocrity) or assimilate some scientific mathematical knowledge but the OP asked,

“Can anyone get good at maths to an advanced level”(University)


That was part of the main question.


He may well of asked can anyone play football to high level (spherical ones – I am British)


Can anyone make the premiership with proper encouragement, training, diet, mentoring, best facilities, nurturing, loving parents, a stable home life and plenty of time?


The answer to that question is not everyone can play football well enough to play for the pub team let alone be a professional or get to the premiership.


Why should maths be different?
 
  • Like
Likes FactChecker
  • #108
94
58
Memory is a strange thing. Not always can I understand why certain facts and ideas stick to my mind immediately after the first reading and endure for a long time, while others keep eluding me after many repetitions.
But I'm sure that memory management (if not some kind of innate "raw memory") can be learned and improved as well. To some unknown extent.
And, by the way,
When a person does math beyond their interest level that is when they feel they are working too hard
interests change as well. History was one of the least appealing subjects to me at school, and a history textbook before bed was a sure-fire method for me to quickly go to sleep. But I'm starting to pick up my interest in history now, as a grown-up, and finding myself being fascinated by subject, while being able to memorize historical facts (and even the dreaded "dates") better.
 
  • #109
FactChecker
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,575
2,644
IMHO, people who try to blame a single factor for a lack of mathematical ability are just trying to oversimplify a complicated subject. They are doing it without scientific proof and they are ignoring other evidence. This thread is very unscientific.
 
  • Like
Likes PeroK, StoneTemplePython and Terrell
  • #110
pinball1970
Gold Member
963
1,052
IMHO, people who try to blame a single factor for a lack of mathematical ability are just trying to oversimplify a complicated subject. They are doing it without scientific proof and they are ignoring other evidence. This thread is very unscientific.

No one is looking at single factors we are putting forward our own experience of learning compared to others and some tutors have given their experience also. It is not a scientific paper but it is evidence.
 
  • Like
Likes FactChecker and symbolipoint
  • #111
FactChecker
Science Advisor
Gold Member
6,575
2,644
No one is looking at single factors we are putting forward our own experience of learning compared to others and some tutors have given their experience also. It is not a scientific paper but it is evidence.
Yes. I was too harsh.
 
  • Like
Likes pinball1970
  • #112
pinball1970
Gold Member
963
1,052
The impression I get from them is that they are giving a substantial amount of effort for very little progress. Is that a better way to word it?

This is also important. Same topic say calculus same class same teacher. Some kids 'get it' others don't get it straight away others don't get it. All things being equal the only other variable is ability and you find that at every level. Some kids would take too long to get it you would need twice the amount of time or x3 or more. Same applies to trig algebra long division addition with plastic money and pretend shop. Some kids get it.
 
  • #113
StatGuy2000
Education Advisor
1,868
964
Is this topic making any progress yet?

Can anyone learn advanced maths? (Researches)

I have no "researches" to refer to. I'd say "advanced Mathematics" might be anything beyond the range of typical university Calculus 1, 2, 3. Below this range of courses may be Algebra 1 & 2, Geometry, Trigonometry, College Algebra (part of "Pre-Calculus"). I'll take Drakkith's statement on it (Can anyone learn advanced maths?). His statement is based on his own learning, and on teaching or tutoring experience. One should try teaching or tutoring, to be more familiar what that is like.

I had not intended on continuing this thread, but let me make myself clear.

My statements on this thread -- specifically, that any student who do not have a specific mental or learning disability can learn the foundations of advanced mathematics (which I define as pre-calculus, algebra, and trigonometry) provided that they receive a strong foundation of math education at an early age -- is based on my own learning, the learning experiences of students I've witnessed, and my experiences in both teaching and tutoring.

What I have argued against is the notion (expressed by some in this thread) that the capability to learn mathematics is a hereditary or genetic trait that only some people possess, and no amount of education will enable such a student to learn mathematics.
 

Related Threads on Can anyone learn advanced maths? (Researches)

  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
22K
Replies
6
Views
8K
Replies
10
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
3K
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
1K
Replies
1
Views
1K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
2K
Top