Why Mathematics is Considered Difficult

Why Mathematics is Considered Difficult

The adjective (“difficulty”) that we have used here is purely based on perspective. That means, a specific student (“A”) might consider the subject difficult whereas another student (“B”) might also not hold the subject in the same way as “A.” But yes, we agree that most consider the subject difficult. One might not consider the entire subject “difficult” but s/he’ll surely find a few math topics/concepts to be well beyond his/her comfort zone.

There’s another thing that needs to be remembered. Math difficulty is completely justified. Why is this subject considered to be so difficult? Let’s go through a few reasons due to which Math is considered to be pretty difficult for many students.

Abstract concepts/topics  

Mathematics is considered to be an abstract subject. Most students believe that mathematics exists as an idea or thought, but it doesn’t have a physical/concrete existence. To be honest, we cannot consider this belief illogical, especially in higher classes. We are proving you with a simple example:

Trigonometry- The field of mathematics dealing with sine, cos, tan, cosec, sec, cot. Can you see a math problem having a “sine” in real life? There are several applications of trigonometry in real life but most students are either unaware of that fact or aren’t interested enough to know about them. For, e.g., Trigonometry is used to measure heights and distances in real life. The height of a mountain is measured through the use of trigonometry.

Students find it really difficult to connect mathematics with that of their daily life. A subject that’s believed to exist purely as an idea within the realms of textbooks is not an easy one to learn. After all, what you see is what you believe. And what you believe is something that’s easy to learn. Thus, an easy conclusion can be drawn from the last statement alone. Mathematics IS difficult.


Influences can sometimes play a big role in inculcating a belief in students.

“He says that mathematics is tough. He is a brilliant student in class who works hard in almost all subjects. If he thinks like that, it’s almost a certainty that mathematics is not going to be an easy walk in the park. Mathematics is difficult”.

How many students think like the way we stated above? A fair many for sure. Thus, the subject automatically gets difficult for them.

Mathematics is sometimes taught like a procedure-oriented subject  

Most students consider mathematics “boring”. That’s mainly because of the way it’s taught to students. Mathematics should never be taught in a procedure-oriented manner. Yes, a procedure is important, and a certain set of steps should be maintained in mathematics; but we must also remember that procedure should never be considered the backbone of math education. The backbone of math education is logic.

At least at the start of a new chapter, we should refrain from procedure-oriented teaching and include several back stories and logic to draw the interest of students. Soon afterward, we can delve deeper into the procedural part of the topic.

Time constraints and pressure

Different students take different time to comprehend a math topic. Some might learn a chapter in a day; another might take a week to comprehend the same. Time constraint is definitely an issue that makes certain students believe that math is difficult. That’s because they are not getting the time needed to comprehend the topic. Time constraint usually arises with pressure. And the pressure to perform usually comes with exams or comparisons.

“He can learn a topic within an hour. I can’t do that. I need 5 hours to comprehend the same.”

If you look at the quote above, you’ll know for sure that it’s quite depressing for the student who’s thinking like that.

That brings us to the end of this article. We’ll sign off for now. Hope you had a good read.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for wizert.com and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993

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