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Creating positive disposition to mathematics

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Evoking interest: A session during the three-week Mathematics Talent Search and Nurture Programme 2010 organised by the National Board for Higher Mathematics at Department of Mathematics, Calicut University.
Evoking interest: A session during the three-week Mathematics Talent Search and Nurture Programme 2010 organised by the National Board for Higher Mathematics at Department of Mathematics, Calicut University.

ABDUL LATHEEF NAHA

Enjoying mathematics may not be always possible. But when someone makes it possible, the charm and beauty of mathematics – the language of physical sciences – is unveiled. Thanks to the National Board for Higher Mathematics (NBHM), a three-week unique training programme held at Department of Mathematics, Calicut University, has attracted the crème of B.Sc. Maths students from across the State.

“It has been a wonderful experience. It opened up a new world of mathematics, unveiling the real charm and beauty of maths,” said Maria Paulose from Kochi and Narayanan P.A. from Thrissur. Like 31 other B.Sc. final year students, they too have been chosen through a screening test.

The Mathematics Talent Search and Nurture Programme 2010 reached its pinnacle of fame and interest by way of student and faculty response ever since Calicut University began hosting it from 2003. Although the syllabus of the programme covers foundations, analysis, algebra, linear algebra and geometry at B.Sc. level, the impact of the course on participant students has been much more than expected. “We never thought mathematics was so serious and interesting a subject as to arouse a renewed sense of learning in us. Now we know what mathematical language is,” said Shabin S. from Kollam, Safoora K.P. from Kannur and Dhanya V.S. from Palakkad.

The NBHM has spent Rs.5.5 lakh for this residential programme during which the college students were exposed to the higher facilities available at Calicut University Mathematics Department. “What made this programme unique is that there was no lecture at all, but only problem solving,” said P.T. Ramachandran, head of the Department of Mathematics, Calicut University, who was in charge of conducting the programme.

A dozen-odd resource persons and faculty members from different parts of the country helped the students solve the problems. They moved around the student clusters, giving them clues and wheedling them into finding solutions.

“This programme has helped change the attitude of students to problems — let it be any problems in life,” said Dr. A.J. Jayanthan from the Department of Mathematics, Goa University. “Their approach to life will change after attending this course.”

Most students who attended agreed. “Now we can approach any problem with the deftness and deductive reasoning we have acquired from it,” said Ms. Paulose.

Maths teachers like Prof. A.N. Mohapatra from Goa University; Prof. K.S. Subramanian Moosath from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram; Prof. E. Krishnan from the University College, Thiruvananthapuram; and Prof. S. Somasundaram, head of the Department of Mathematics, Manonmaniam Sundarnar University, Tirunelveli, were among the faculty, besides Dr. Jayanthan.

“Only those with genuine interest in mathematics come for this course. This course has helped them realise how maths can help them in real life,” said Prof. Moosath.

The three-week course and its success underscored the necessity of changing the teaching method of mathematics. But none blames the college teachers for the current method of mathematics teaching. With the semesterisation of B.Sc. programmes, teachers have begun to be burdened with heavy portions of syllabus to be completed in each five months of the semester.

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