Is Reading More Important than Math


It is upsetting to me when a child has problems in reading and math and the focus is always on reading. Reading is an essential life skill to have, but why does it always take the priority? Is it because of the word problems that students are required to read in math? If that is the case, why do we require the students to read the word problems? Why can’t the word problems be read to the students and have the students solve the problems?  Should we assess how well a student can read the word problems or are we assessing a child’s ability to solve mathematical situations? Are we saying that a child needs to be able to read in order to perform well in math? Is reading more important than math in their future careers? Is this why our country and families are deep in debt due to the lack of number sense? Will the students use reading more than math in their life and career or is it a balance?

These are questions that I  wonder about frequently. The questions are very important in moving our educational system in a positive, more effective manner. I do not believe one is more important than the other, I feel both should be a focus and there has to be a way to accomplish working on both skills.  If we change the way we have always done things, we may see better results. Change is hard because of the fear of the unknown, but if we never change and take risks, how do we know what will happen? We must take risks and try new strategies to determine if they will work.

I think it would be a little easier to close students’ achievement gaps in math than in reading. A person shouldn’t teach math in the same manner as reading is taught. Math is logical reasoning and understanding math vocabulary.  We have to find a way to work smarter, so students will be able to receive both reading and math skills.

We talk about teaching across the curriculum, but is it happening? Is not happening due to how the curriculum map or pacing guide may be set up in school districts or at the state level?  When districts are setting up the units, the developers may want to look at the standards closely to determine how to arrange the units so they align better. We have to figure out a way to solve the problem by creating innovative ways to make interventions possible for math and reading. I know it can be done, if we all put our heads together.

I understand students have to be able to read and understand word problems because it is a part of the math standards. A person have to be able to read a word problem (unless we read the problem to the students) and comprehend what the problem is saying in order to solve. So, why not teach reading skills using math word problems? The word problems are much shorter than passages the students are expected to read. A word problem is a story that is being told. There may be characters or people who are doing something. Let students discuss the text of the problems and then solve the problems. In this manner, reading skills, comprehension skills, and critical thinking skills are being used.

Reading and math skills are essential for all students to be successful in society. What are your ideas? How can we work together to focus on both? Let me know by leaving a comment.

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