Learn How to Become Successful in Math and Successful in Life!

Would you like to become not only successful in math, but in all that you do? All it takes is the understanding and application of my favorite three words.

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The first word is “communication”

The dictionary defines communication as “the activity of conveying information”. In other words, communication is the act of transferring information from a source to a recipient.

There are many ways to communicate not only in terms of becoming successful in math, but in becoming successful in life. For this discussion, let us focus on the most common methods of communication between people: through the spoken word and through the written word.

Has communication taken place if what is said is not heard? What if it is heard but is not understood?

Have we communicated if what is written is not read or, if it is read, it is not understood?

What if what we hear or read is not true? In this case, although communication between people has occurred, the facts that the communication conveyed may be corrupted, tainted, or biased.

What is affected when communication takes place? The answer to the question is “perception”.

The dictionary defines perception as “becoming aware of something via the senses”. However, I prefer to expand the definition of perception to emphasize that perception is a very personal thing. Accordingly, I would expand the definition of perception to include the concept of “my perception of something is what I think is meant by what I heard or read”.

What does communication and the resulting perception affect that determines our behavior? The reply to the question is my third favorite word: commitment.

The dictionary defines commitment as “an agreement or pledge to do something in the future”

A personal commitment may be as mundane as a “New Year’s Resolution” like “I resolve to give up smoking … maybe ……”

Or, a commitment may be one in which the individual is prepared to give up his life in order to “serve his religion”.

Making a commitment with regards to learning math and therefore becoming successful in math, is somewhere in between these two examples.

As a teacher I always present these three words to my students during our first meeting. I tell them that the communications they have received over the years from friends, parents, or peers, has affected their perception with regards to the value of learning math and becoming successful in math.

If their perception is that math is too tough to learn, or, that they are not intelligent enough to learn math, or any other negative impression concerning math, their commitment to learn math could be very weak.

If, on the other hand, their perception is that learning math is enjoyable, or that they feel that they have the intelligence to learn math, or any other positive impression concerning math, their commitment to learn math could be very strong.

I tell them that my commitment to them with regards to helping them become successful in math is “I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to help you become proficient in math”.

That means that I will make myself readily available to answer their questions, offer advice and help whenever they request it, monitor their progress in order to measure their understanding of the concepts, and report my evaluation of their progress to them in a timely manner.

I then ask them to make a commitment to me with regards to learning math which is “I will do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to become successful in math”.

That means that they will ask questions when they need more explanations, they will study the homework assignment before trying to solve the problems, they will do the homework problems so they can evaluate their understanding of the concepts, and they will participate in class.

My declaration of my commitment to my students, and my request for the students’ commitment to me, has had very favorable results. My students were not afraid to ask questions in class. They did not hesitate to contact me by email or telephone when they encountered a concept that they did not understand completely. They took notes in class. They studied the subject text and reviewed their notes before trying to solve the homework problems. They participated in class. They became successful in math.

The preceding example of how communication, perception and commitment affected the outcome of my math classes is based on actual experiences. But how do the three words affect success or failure in almost all of our personal goals?

Consider any circumstance and see how these three words could explain why people behave as they do.

For example, if communication is that people of a given race will never be successful, how would a young student perceive the value of studying a difficult subject?

Imagine other possible sets of circumstances and then predict what outcomes could be expected if communication was favorable or unfavorable. Examples for your consideration could be the relationship between a worker and his supervisor, or between a person and their “better half”, or between a teacher and a student, our between one national and another national.

I believe that our summation of the affects of the words “communication, perception, and commitment” would be:

Communication affects perception. Favorable communication should generate a favorable perception.

Perception affects commitment. A favorable perception should produce a strong commitment.

Commitment should determine success or failure. A strong commitment usually results in a successful outcome.

These three words, when applied correctly, can have a very significant effect not only in becoming successful in math but on our success in our careers, in our personal relationships, and in our understanding of life in general.

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