Comparing the Mathematics Learners of Then and Now
by Geraldin Lope Taroballes
I was born as a Millennial with Baby Boomers who served as my teachers. Now, I am a Millennial who serve as teacher for the Generation Z. As I almost reach fifteen years of my experience as a Mathematics teacher in a public high school in Iloilo City, I sometimes ponder on the difficulties I meet as a teacher in Mathematics.
There are instances when I feel exasperated when I face mathematically challenged learners. There are instances when I expect my learners to have mastered specific competencies yet I get concerned with their lacking Mathematics fundamentals such as the basic operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
With these observations, I tend to compare and contrast the Mathematics learners of then and now. Here are some points that I have observed when it comes to my learners.
1. Technology. The Mathematics learners of now were born with a cellphone in their hand while the Mathematics learners of then have just experienced technology while growing up. The former are digital natives while the latter are digital immigrants. In the advent of the world wide web and social media, it is a challenge for teachers to compete and maintain a high level of interest when learners are distracted with technology. This might be considered a challenge for teachers. However, learners are so in tuned with YouTube that some seek their answers by watching problem solving videos. Technology can both be a pain or gain depending on the situation.
The learners of then were mostly independent of technology. Students can only use calculators during Stoichiometry in Chemistry or Kinematics in Physics or Trigonometry in Mathematics. Compared with the trend today, learners can literally use different softwares when it comes to solving Mathematics problems.
However, as I have observed, I sometimes wonder why some of my learners cannot seem to grasp the basics of Mathematics that they should have learned while in elementary.
2. The Mathematics learners of then were disciplined compared to the Mathematics learners of now. I remember when my Mathematics teacher in elementary used to just look and signal my rowdy classmates to settle down and keep quiet. These days, it takes a huge amount of currency called patience to be withdrawn from the bank of ethics. There are days when I had been tempted to lash my learners but am glad that I always keep my temper in check as temporal punishment is no longer allowed in this present generation. Sometimes, I wonder if the misbehavior of students is a direct consequence of faulty laws that sometimes could be labeled as not-so-teacher friendly.
There are still many points that make the Mathematics learners of then different from the Mathematics learners of now. Despite all the challenges that I face, I always remember that the goal of education is to make a change in the lives of the learners. Whether a learner is a Millennial or a Generation Z, it is hoped that their lives will be changed as I share with them the beauty and significance of Mathematics.