To an outsider, math can appear cold and clinical – an exercise in reducing the world to numbers and figures. But ask a mathematician (or, really, anyone who cursorily enjoys the subject), and they will wax poetic about the beauty of math.
To an outsider, math can seem like a foreign and indistinguishable language, reserved for a few choice individuals predisposed to understand it. But, again, math-lovers have to disagree: Mathematics often follows consistent, systematic rules and patterns. Moreover, it isn’t something you’re born with; anyone can tap into it with enough curiosity and drive.
So, what gives? Is math clinical or beautiful? Is it a complex language or an accessible mode of seeing the world?
That’s the wonderful thing about math. It is all those things at once. It’s analytical and majestic, immensely complex and universally reachable. With the right online school in Canada, passionate teachers and personal discipline, you – indeed, anyone – can know and love math.
“Don’t Change the Subject”
At OES, we’re passionate about all subjects. We love how literature can probe the human condition, how history can illuminate a better path toward the future, and how biology strengthens our relationship to the natural world. And, of course, we love math.
If you haven’t really clicked with math so far in your academic career, perhaps it’s because the way you’re learning it wasn’t right for you. In part, this article implores you to follow that piece of advice every parent dispenses when they’re trying to probe you about something: “Don’t change the subject”!
Don’t give up on mathematics. As we’ll explore in the section below, learning math has several general benefits.
Further, math is one of the many subjects that we believe benefit from an online approach. As we’ll explore in the second section of this article, learning math online does the subject a great service by keeping it focused on the individual learner. Our online approach ensures that every student has the time and resources they need to learn this fundamental subject.
If you’re unsure about math or undecided whether online math classes are suitable for you, consider the following points.
The General Benefits of Math Courses
Before we dive into the specific benefits of online math classes, it might be helpful to review the general benefits of learning math. A common complaint among non-math-lovers is, “when am I going to use this in my life?”. As we’ll find out, math has several wide-ranging applications and implied benefits.
Problem Solving, Analysis and Critical Thinking
Math’s most commonly cited benefit is probably its ability to foster problem-solving skills.
From an early age, math education promotes a critical and analytical way of looking at the world. According to Juanita V. Copley, in her fantastic study The Young Child and Mathematics, she illustrates how young students learn math by “doing, talking, reflecting, discussing, observing, investigating, listening, and reasoning.” This arsenal of critical thinking tactics sets young minds up for a life of inquisitive thought.
As you enter high school, you kick those analytical skills into high gear. In courses like MPM2D (Grade 10 Principles of Mathematics), students “broaden their understanding of relationships and extend their problem-solving and algebraic skills through investigation, the effective use of technology, and abstract reasoning.”
Later in your high school math career, you might encounter the MHF4U course (Grade 12 Advanced Functions), in which you specialize your analytic skills, diving deeply into the world of polynomial, rational, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions.
When you get out of high school, those problem-solving skills come in extremely handy. Whether you’re tasked with building a bookshelf, scaling up a cupcake recipe, or performing risk analysis on your stock portfolio, you will apply the skills and concepts you learned in your math classes.
Math rears its head in everyday applications, like those mentioned above. But it’s also an underpinning facet of several professions. Here is an incomplete list of professions that require foreknowledge of advanced mathematics:
- Software Developer
- Computer Programmer
- Computer Animator
- And – of course – Math Teacher!
Several trades, like plumbing and electricity, also use math on a daily basis. How else would a plumber calculate the ratio between pipe size and volume output? And how else would an electrician understand and apply Ohm’s Law?
A Universal Language
Math, music and laughter share at least one thing in common: They are universal languages.
It doesn’t matter where in the world you end up – you can find like-minded individuals eager to speak to you in mathematics. Because mathematical phrases and formulae are standardized across the globe, when you learn math, you learn a barrier-free way of communicating with fellow intellects.
It Helps with Finances Later in Life
A day will come when you must balance your monthly income and expenses. When you have to weigh the relative merits of a fixed or variable mortgage. And when you should calculate the compound interest on your loans and deposits.
A solid foundation in mathematics makes these processes much more accessible. Managing personal finances is one of the linchpins of being a responsible adult, and math is your toolkit for getting the job done.
The Benefits of Taking Math Courses Online
In addition to the already established general benefits of math – like honed analytic skills and career applicability – taking math courses online has several distinctive benefits.
If you’re a regular visitor to the blog, you might have read one of our explorations of the benefits of taking courses online. We’ve discussed how the flexibility of online learning allows students to pursue extracurricular interests and career prospects. And we’ve noted that learning from home adds convenience and comfort to one’s daily educational schedule.
Here, we are exploring the benefits of online learning only as they apply to mathematics. Below, we make our case for why the online model is the ideal way to learn this fundamental subject.
Time for Acquisition, Contemplation and Familiarization
Math is challenging for most people. It takes time and effort to digest complex mathematical formulae, processes and concepts.
At the top of the article, we implored the math-reticent student reading this to rethink the way they learn math. The reason is that we believe the self-paced model for online learning is a more democratic approach.
When you take math courses online at OES, we give you the time you need to acquire, contemplate and familiarize yourself with information. When you sign up for a course, you receive a generous 12-month window to finish (you can also apply for extensions).
Within that timeframe, you decide how to apportion your time. For instance, if you find that the unit of grade 12 data management dealing with discrete probability distributions is particularly challenging, you can take more time on it. Contrast this with traditional brick-and-mortar schools, where everyone, regardless of prior familiarity or mathematical ability, must complete each unit on a collective timeline.
Online Learning Allows Math-Minded Students to Get Ahead
Conversely, if math comes easily to you, online learning allows you to move ahead with your studies quicker. If you can finish a math course in four months, demonstrating understanding and application, all the power to you!
With online courses, grade levels don’t necessarily need to correspond with age. You can be 16-years old with a fiery passion for math, and work your way right up to MCT4C – Grade 12 Math for College Tech. Nor does course advancement correspond with semesters and years. If you’ve completed a grade 11 online math class early, by all means, take a grade 12 math course right away – even if it’s the summer!
Support from Teachers and Tutors
Support is critical when learning math. If you’ve ever tried to parse mathematical information from a textbook by yourself, you can attest to the importance of a guide. Without a knowledgeable, communicative presence to steer you through, things can quickly get confusing.
Of course, traditional schools offer support; they often feature dedicated teachers with a knack for explaining unfamiliar concepts to enthusiastic students. Where online schools differ, however, is in your access to that support.
At OES, we offer free 24/7 tutoring in addition to your lessons with a passionate certified teacher. If a polynomial equation is keeping you up at night or a quadratic model is frustrating you on a Sunday, you’ll find the support you need to work through the problem.
For us, it’s all about success. We want to remove any potential barriers you may face on your path to academic success.
Block out Social Distractions
Math problems demand an intense level of focus. A few years ago, The New York Times ran an article entitled “What Your Brain Looks Like When It Solves a Math Problem,” in which they spoke to a team of scientists using brain-imaging analyses to see what’s happing in our heads when we do math.
The results were illuminating. Faced with a math problem, the human brain quickly labours through distinct phases (encoding, planning, solving and responding). And each of these rapid-fire movements requires intense focus.
Breaking that concentration once can derail a solution. Breaking it repeatedly can derail a student’s chances of long-term math success.
When you take math courses online, you don’t have to worry about social distractions or classroom pressure. No whispering from the back of the class. No spontaneous music from a peer’s iPhone. And no worrying about the clock above the blackboard ticking your remaining time away. It’s just you, your brain, and the problem at hand.
Lastly, online math courses may have a concomitant benefit for career prospects. The way most workplaces approach math nowadays is through computers and technology. You work through problems on your computer – making calculations, predictions, models and designs – and share your work via slide or spreadsheet applications.
Therefore, learning math online may set you up better for applying math in the workplace. Having already experienced solving math problems from the comfort of a private desk and computer, you might find that you have a leg up in the workplace.
Math Courses at OES
We’ve covered the general benefits of a math education. And we pinpointed the specific benefits of taking math classes online. Now, let’s explore your options. Whatever grade you’re in or previous level you’ve completed, you will find courses at OES that challenge you and advance your understanding.
Here are the math courses we offer at OES:
- MTH1W – Grade 9 Mathematics
- MPM2D – Grade 10 Principles of Mathematics– Academic
- MBF3C – Grade 11 Foundations for College Math
- MCR3U – Grade 11 Functions – University
- MCF3M – Grade 11 Functions & Applications – University/College
- MAP4C – Grade 12 Mathematics for College
- MCT4C – Grade 12 Math for College Tech.
- MHF4U – Grade 12 Advanced Functions – University
- MDM4U – Grade 12 Data Management – University
- MCV4U – Grade 12 Calculus and Vectors – University
On our website, you will find detailed course outlines for each of the classes above, complete with credit values, lengths, course descriptions, unit breakdowns, unit descriptions, learning and teaching strategies, and assessment strategies. It’s all there for you to peruse and consider.
We also encourage students and parents to chat with us about our courses. We understand that online learning might be a new concept to some, and we are happy to walk through the mechanisms, steps and philosophies we follow here at OES.
To summarize, math is many things: beautiful, complex, universal, specific, perennially useful and frequently challenging. Learning math has several benefits for people of all ages, but you should approach it the right way. Taking math classes online helps students move through the trickier units at a self-set pace and allows math-minded students to work toward their goals quicker.
Whether you consider yourself math-averse or math-enthusiastic, we encourage you to give OES’s math courses a try. It’s a simple equation: you + our passionate staff of math instructors + 24/7 support + a self-paced online model = probable academic success.