The Truth About Higher Math and Basic Math

Before a student leaves elementary school, he or she has been introduced to all of the math that will be needed to learn pre-algebra, a relatively new course. Yes, in grades one through six, students will have dabbled in the math that drives them insane from middle school through college.

Algebra is disguised as solving for unknown quantities displayed as blank lines or spaces in simple math problems, e.g., 1 + 2 = __ or 5 – ? = 2.

Geometry covers shapes, figures, their characteristics, and possibilities. Many ways to say square, rectangle, or four-sided are learned, and perimeter, area, and volume appear.

Trigonometry is everything you could want to know about triangles, including finding missing sides, values, and angles.

Statistics is simply stated as an average, mean, median, mode, or range. The infamous phrase “grading on a curve” is derived from it.

As a society, math is our weakest subject. Yet technology, engineering, and sciences are math-based. Isn’t it funny how the “money jobs” require math knowledge? In addition, technological advances are the pet of younger generations. Maybe they are better at math than previously thought.

Using the true names of the math taught in elementary school—while it’s being learned–will lead to less faltering and low self-esteem as students progress in math.

Why Math Is More Than Numbers

What math student doesn’t struggle with or outright hate word problems in pre-algebra, algebra, or geometry? The ones that don’t know how to apply math to real-life applications, that’s who. Landscaping or construction scenarios torture them, as do the shadow-pole-building examples that require drawing a picture. That’s if they don’t already despise math itself.

When working with students on word problems, a more accurate picture of their educational difficulties is revealed.

They begin by reading the problem aloud. Words are mispronounced. Maybe they are pressured regarding reading in the presence of an instructor. They continue. Their use of phonics to sound out the words is non-existent. They sound as if they are learning to read. Others stumble on the so-called “big” words. Even a pre-algebra student should be far beyond that point. Usually, these words are recognized in common speech. Plenty of people use words they cannot spell.

The student continues with the problem. We walk through how to approach it. While that happens, there is no ignoring that there is a reading issue as well. Math is about numbers until a word problem is presented.

Is the student interested in tackling the underlying problem? Can he or she accept an offer to help without taking it as a criticism?

Care enough to help them over the hurdle.

How to Simplify Math’s History

Each type of math builds on the concepts of its prerequisites. Prior to middle school, students have been introduced to the usual high school math, minus the formal names and titles.



Pre-algebra was developed to prepare students for algebra. It was formerly known as the math taught from kindergarten to sixth grade. Unfortunately, many unprepared students are enrolled in it. Fear of the unknown has caused some of them to doubt their math abilities, a hesitation previously reserved for algebra.



Algebra is a tradition with a bad reputation. It was only a math class until labels developed. Since then, it has been the experimental math course. Some schools have divided it into three semesters to help students learn it on the first attempt. It is the turning point, as all higher math courses are based on it. This topic is challenging enough for those who have mastered elementary school math, yet many mysteriously unqualified students still end up in the course. That is another subject.



Geometry applies algebra and is less ‘mathematical’, not to insult those who defend the opposite viewpoint. Its use ranges from simple measurement to landscaping, engineering, and beyond. Of the standard four faces of typical high school mathematics beyond pre-algebra—Algebra I, geometry, Algebra II, and trigonometry–this is the friendliest one. The real-life applications of it are the easier for students to understand although some would disagree because of the same difference previously mentioned.


Algebra II

Algebra II is a more complex side of algebra. Most high school students are not required to take it unless they are college-bound. It is usually followed by trigonometry, precalculus, and calculus, in that order. Notice that calculus has a preparatory course as well. With that, it’s no wonder why math-based jobs pay so much.


In conclusion, there is reason to use another viewpoint when it comes to math. This is especially true for those that hate it.