How does a teacher make children learn a dreaded subject like mathematics? “Just remove the fear of the subject,” advises Ashok Kumar V., a mathematics teacher at Kendriya Vidyalaya at Panambur. Mr. Kumar has been teaching for the past 24 years and is now headed to New Delhi to receive the National Best Teacher Award from President Pratibha Patil on Teachers’ Day on Saturday. The other teacher from Dakshina Kannada to receive this honour is Narayan Bhat T., headmaster of Sri Ramakunjeshwara Sanskrit Higher Primary School near Puttur.

Mr. Kumar told The Hindu that a teacher had to go that extra mile and understand the background of children who were scared of a particular subject. “Some children get no support whatsoever from their families,” he said.

Mr. Kumar said that a child who got only one mark in an examination and two marks the next time should be told that it had bettered its performance. “Tell the student that he can do better, instead of scolding him,” he said.

Two of his students, whose performances were average earlier, had scored 100 marks in the class X examination, he said. They received prizes in the Mathematical Olympiad as well.

Has he developed any special educational aids to achieve this? “A blackboard and a piece of chalk is enough for me,” Mr. Kumar said.

Making the concepts easier through everyday examples is another way of helping children overcome their fear of mathematics. Once the basic concepts are clear, the students take interest in the subject, he said.

‘Teachers needed’

Mr. Kumar, who is a member of the book writing panel of the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), said that teachers need to be trained to achieve this. He lamented that fewer number of people opted for the profession.

Mr. Kumar has worked in Pune, Thrissur, and Delhi before being posted to Mangalore a year and a half ago. He hails from an agricultural family in Alappuzha district in Kerala.

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