If you or your child see math as a huge, flesh eating monster then – Welcome to Math4Teens.com
Math4Teens is all about making mathematics accessible, understandable, and fun.
Dr. G (Hanan Gancz) founded Math4Teens with a simple premise guiding his teaching philosophy:
“I consider Math as just another foreign language” Dr G. said. “Like all languages, it is a form of communication among humans.”
“It is the daily routine of hearing it, reading it, and speaking it, that will help you become a fluent speaker.” he added.
Dr. Gancz continued “Unlike any other language we speak there are no native speakers of Math.” and added “It is a second language for everyone”.
I asked him why some people are getting it very easily while others struggle?
“The secret is that you can speak it as well as anyone else if you are willing to accept it is a language. Surprisingly, people think that because of the numbers it must be complex and beyond them. They are right in a way, as most of them want to to jump directly to the advanced reader state – while they are not there yet.”
“Let me illustrate: While growing up, I learned some Romanian to be able to communicate with my Grandfather. I haven’t used it in ages and I almost did not read anything written as a child. You can imagine how hard reading the front page of the newspaper is going to be for me if I tried it today – that’s were many students are without realizing it.”
“However, if I was to learn reading Romanian, given the base I have. I would start with increasing my vocabulary and reading simple sentences. Move to more elaborate sentences and paragraphs and so on until I will be pleased with where I am. Math is no different – you need mastery of the basics and a structured progression to be able to read more advanced texts. For example – many Calculus students struggle because they have a “small vocabulary” in Algebra and Geometry. They may understand the concepts but have a hard time expressing themselves. My recommendation is to take a step back and work on the basics, regardless of the course, before leaping two steps forward and catching up. You’ll be able to function independently and progress on your own. This is what I wish for all my students. Many times my wish comes true and they are able to go-on on their own without my support”.
What is different about your perception of Math? “Math is the language we use when we infer properties of quantities and their relations to other such entities. The grammar reflects the tools we use to process these concepts as well as the history of Math. It should be within reach to everyone, at least up to Calculus at the minimum”.
“What I do with my students is what an ESOL teacher will do. Mathematical skills are enhanced when used in conversation. We work on understanding while adhering to the Math grammar rules.”
“I see myself as traveling with my students through the “Math-lands”. Helping them experience this strange and enchanting realm.”
What do you do with Students that are not sharing your enthusiasm?
“I understand these students very well. There are tasks I need to do and sometimes I can’t wait to be done with them. I get the students who wish it was already over. I share with these students how I experience Math and allow them to try looking at it for themselves in a secure, relaxed environment. I help them bring the questions into their comfort zone – where they can apply the tools they have to solve the problem or, if they lack these tools, learn to use them. Not all of them are willing at first, that’s normal – if you were put down and told you don’t understand for a long time, it is hard to change your mind. It is completely OK to wish to return home without harm. My job, in the case of these students is to show them the Math monster does not bite, at most it barks. Math is a frighting experience for some of the people I help, it is one of the reasons I promise to ‘hold their hand’ when they want my help”.
You can read more about Hanan’s philosophy and approach in the Blog section.