How to help your to become a math genius


A lot of parents approach me and try to pick my brain of the best methods to use in order to support their children in learning mathematics.
What I have picked up over the years is that many parents had a really bad relationship with mathematics and try and avoid any such contact with the subject lest they be embarassed in front of their children.[br]

This generally leads to apathy on the part of the parent and eventually will trickle down into dislike for the subject.
The above situation is a typical situation but not necessarily the only one. Every situation is unique and requires a custom solution that is fashioned by those involved. There are so many dynamic variables to consider such that the solution needs to evolve with the growth of the child and the increased complexity and rigour that is as a result of the inherent structure of mathematics. It is by nature a cumulative subject that builds from the axioms of the subject to complex applications in real and imaginary worlds.
I have found that the best way of empowering a child to be the best they can be in mathematics and other subjects is to treat the child’s brain as a platform. This analogy fits well because currently the most pervasive businesses have structured themselves as platforms and are dominating commerce.

I have attended and closely follow the MIT – IDE (MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy) activities at MIT Media Labs in Boston, where I have attended the annual Platform Strategy Summit where leading researchers and practitioners exchange ideas on how to mutate and be relevant in the network society that we live in nowadays.

As a parent one has to try and reconfigure the knowledge they acquired decades ago for the new age learning ecosystem. Basically, old horses now have to learn new tricks. As has been said in many publications, the education system that we adults went through was designed for the industrial age (1st industrial age or even pre-dating that) such that an output of the system would be a perfect employee who knows enough not harm himself/herself with the part of the machinery they were operating.
The education system was very conservative and used intangible values and ideas like respect, morality and others to control the masses. I am not by any means discounting the relevance of such values but merely highlighting the misuse of the tenets to mentally enslave the populace.

Now that our children are growing up with access to information from all corners of the globe and beyond it is not unusual for them to challenge the norm. Some parents hate this with a passion and are failing to adjust their modus operandi to fit the new age.
Now, how does a parent enforce discipline in a world that is competing for the child’s attention? How can the parent assist with the dreaded subject of mathematics when they themselves are vitims of this cruel subject?
As I said above, I believe that we should bring the platform strategy into the school and home so as to truly prepare the children for the $n^{th}$ Industrial Revolution. ( In this particular case $n$ is a natural number greater than three i.e. $n \in \mathcal{N}$.
Research in neuroscience shows that the brain is malleable and can be fashioned to be as good as we want it to be. On this background, it is necessary that we use optimisation techniques in the impartation of mathematical skills and knowledge. If we give the right amount of doese of information in the correct way then these should be used as a source of momentum to catapult the child forward. The child will be able to overcome any drag (inertia) that is present in the schooling system by default.
We should not adopt a “hit and run” approach to knowledge dissemination but make it an incremental exercise that permeates all spheres of life and outlasts the child’s formal schooling career. What information/knowledge is one supposed to impart?
In my many years of teaching high school mathematics and adult statistics, I have discovered that one cannot teach mathematics in isolation. Mathematics is a simulation of life whereby one has to solve problems on a daily basis without giving  up.
The mathematics class is a lab for building resilience in  the face of adversity. Imagine if people gave up on living at the rate at which they give up on mathematics, it would be a catastrophe. The suicide rate is already too high and hopefully we can all conribute to reducing it or better still eliminating the scourge.
Some governments, like the South African one even go to the extent of making affording learners mathematical exile throgh mathematical literacy (“maths lite”) and other measured that attack the  standard of teaching and learning so as to accommodate lack of resilience. This is unacceptable.
A platform is an ecosystem that facilitates the exchange of value and has potential to grow into a huge entityt that that the founders would never have imagined, kids are like platforms, they need to be afforded the chance to grow intowho they are supposed to be even if its something foreign to the parent. The parent duty is to make sure that the child is afforded an environment to grow optimally.
The secret to success of a platform lies in the efficient  interaction between participants in the process of exchanging value.  For this interaction to be efficient, the platform owners have to take governance and curation seriously so to  steer players in the direction that is desirable on the platform.
The parent and/or teacher ought to curate the environment that the child lives and interacts with knowledge for efficiency. The adults have to empower the child with a thinking framework which has an unlimited utility value in all aspects of life. I believe that you can teach the child to think critically and give them a thinking methodology for solving problems.
Thinking critically is necessary for them to be able to look at a problem from different perspective and come up with the best possible solution. As for problem solving, a framework similar to that espoused by  the Hungarian mathematician George Polya can assist in helping the child think from first principles in any given scenario. Polya suggested that the skeletal framework for attacking any problem can be summarised in a few steps, although management consultants, engineers and other fields give fancy names to these systems for commercial purposes.
Polya’s steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Understand the problem
  3. Devise a plan
  4. Carry out the plan
  5. Evaluate (Ongoing throughout)


These steps are rich, so I will take time in the next posts to go over each aspect in details and link it back to platformthinking in a way that will hopefully help you as a parent to be there for your child in a meaningful way. Please dont forget to comment below.

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