There are very few for whom the mention of numbers, equations and formula does not send a shiver down the spine. Math problems and exams are a regular feature in many kids’ nightmare, sometimes even adults.
It is actually an unfortunate situation, when the harmless subject plays a vital role in our everyday life – from calculating change for the bus ticket to figuring out Virat Kohli’s batting average.
A lot of it has to do with the way Math is being introduced and taught at school. And with an “approach to re-approach the crucial but much misunderstood subject of Mathematics”, Dinasim, a Mumbai-based start-up, was set up last year.
Targeting students between Stds V to X, the firm hopes to teach children to look at the concept behind the subject rather than from an academic perspective, by using games (even Angry Birds!) and fun activities. It also conducts seminars and workshops at individual, group and school levels.
Divesh Bathija, founder, Dinasim Learning, talks about how we can give the dreaded subject a much needed image makeover.
Why is Math so fearful to so many kids and adults alike?
Math has always been misunderstood by kids and parents. For students, Math is a subject which is mainly for scoring marks while parents want their children to be good at the subject as this is useful throughout one’s life. What they fail to make the students understand is where the subject is useful. Students don’t understand the application of the subject which creates disinterest for the subject.
Where are the teachers going wrong while teaching this subject?
It’s inappropriate to blame the teachers as they are only following the system. The system expects them to complete so many topics in one academic year that they cannot spend more time strengthening the concepts.
What are the best ways to learn Math?
Math is mainly a subject to understand and not to learn. Children need to relate the subject to their day to day activities and that is when they can develop interest for the subject. Playing games, which we at Dinasim learning do, has proved to be successful in engaging their attention and also at creating interest and removing the fear of the subject. We use game such as Angry Birds, football and cricket.
How does one overcome the fear of the subject?
The fear of the subject has developed due to lack of awareness. Every student knows how to solve sums as it is just the use of appropriate formulas, which becomes easier once they understand the logic behind solving the sum and the practical application. To elaborate my point, children know how to calculate percentage, while what they don’t understand is why do they need to learn about percentage, or how does it help in their life...
Basic arithmetic apart, how do you make children learn about the importance of concepts like geometry, calculus and trigonometry?
Everything designed in the curriculum does play a significant role. Concepts like these help you to develop your skills of estimation which will help the student in the long run. For instance, when a person renovates his house and tiles need to be laid, it is important to know the exact amount of material which needs to be purchased. This can be calculated by knowing the concepts of geometry. Geometry plays a very important role in every individual’s life as it enhances estimation skills.
In the case of trigonometry, for a child to estimate at what height is the basketball hoop, it is impractical to check it physically by using a measuring tape. With the help of trigonometry, if he knows the distance between him and the pole, also the angle at which he is throwing the ball, he can estimate the height of the pole.
Such methods help children realise how Math caters to their daily activities and in turn creates interest for the subject.
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When watching a cricket, match calculate the average run rate and keep a check on it every over or so.
When going shopping, they see how many shops have discounts to offer and calculate the discount on a product. Each and every brand which offers a discount will always use percentage, like 40% or 50% instead of Rs. 500 off as the percentage helps to relate with every product on sale.
While going out , calculate the distance covered, because distance is usually addressed with regard to the time it takes to reach a place, like 30 mins or 50 mins. So when travelling, record all speed levels, time taken to reach the destination, and in turn calculate the actual distance they have covered.