Whenever I tell people I love math I always get the oddest looks. Most people will simply tell me that they hated it and that they never understood it or why it was ever important. My high school calculus once told her student that “[The Student] would not need calculus once they started working at Pizza Hut.”
I used to tutor Calculus and one of the biggest things I noticed was that many people who struggled had a weak foundation. They understood how to do the calculus part of the problem but could not figure out how to isolate a certain variable, factor or simplify the problem.
Another common problem is simply not understanding the problem itself. Many times I would copy down a problem and simply ask, “What does this problem want us to do?” Some students would reply and say that they do not know. I think of math as a language-the language of nature. You can see numbers such as the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Sequence occur in natural life. Like with most foreign languages, we do not spend enough time learning it in school. One of the most useful tips I was taught in my calculus class was to turn mathematical symbols into words and words into symbols to better understand the question. Usually when I break down how to interpret a question, my students can better analyze and solve it.
Ultimately, I feel as if math is important. It is used in many professional careers and yet I feel that it does not receive the respect it deserves as a vital subject. I think part of it is that most people do not have an appreciation for math outside of basic algebra and arithmetic. I do not know what the solution is but I hope that one day math is received by kids with warmth and it is not presented in a systematic way to solve problems, but rather in a fun, engaging problem solving process.