Math Enthusiasm Hits PSAA

More than 174 students from several Adventist elementary schools packed into the Puget Sound Adventist Academy (PSAA) gymnasium to attend a recent “Mr. Math” presentation, “Getting Kids and Adults Excited About Mathematics.”

Host Willie L. Walker, “Mr. Math” himself, said students need to be able to do two things well in math: 1) Fluently multiply in their head, and (2) Focus, focus, focus.

The ability to multiply numbers 0-12 by numbers 0-10 speeds up a person’s ability to do math, he said. And those who can focus, even though they may not have a burning interest in math, will have a much easier time solving problems.

Speaking of the need to focus, Nicole Kiger, a fifth-grade teacher at Kirkland Adventist School, said, “Miss it, you’re lost.” She said that students who lack the ability to multiply well often miss instructions while participating in a math game.

During the six-hour math convention, the fifth- through ninth-graders learned techniques and exercises to make mental math easier.

Joey Lake, a ninth-grader from Bremerton, Wash., gave the workshop a try, though he felt math was not one of his strong areas.

By the end of the first day, however, he was convinced that Walker’s teaching was an “excellent way of learning.”

Walker’s math style might never have reached the public, had it not been for the inspiration of his mother.

It was she who suggested that Walker become a teacher, after watching him tutor his niece. Walker then found that by using his own math games and techniques, he could make math exciting for those who found math textbook methods unappealing.

In 1990, Walker was named Miami’s “Math Teacher of the Year” and eventually started his own math consulting company, “Project Motivational Math, Inc.” Now in his sixth year of touring the United States, he helps take the fear out of math, as he equips students with skills to compute large equations in their heads.

January 01, 2003 / Washington Conference