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Teaching maths through traditional games

Staff Correspondent
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Nandan Kulkarni, a schoolboy, playing the traditional game of ‘Alikallu’ at the inaugural session of a workshop for schoolteachers in Dharwad on Tuesday.
Nandan Kulkarni, a schoolboy, playing the traditional game of ‘Alikallu’ at the inaugural session of a workshop for schoolteachers in Dharwad on Tuesday.

Is it possible to make learning interesting through games? It may seem amazing. But some experts here have achieved success in their attempt. Many traditional games seem to have the potential to teach mathematics and help children understand in an easy and joyful way. Now, efforts are being made to implement this new system in schools by training primary school teachers.

A workshop organised by Shikshana Mantapa of Karnatak Vidhyavardhak Sangha here on Tuesday turned out to be an interesting experience for teachers who took part in it. The workshop, which was inaugurated by a boy playing “Alikallu”, a popular traditional indoor game, threw light on how less expensive Indian games can help teach mathematics to children in a joyful atmosphere. The teachers were made to play different games like children. The teachers later said that they enjoyed the games.

Ten teams were formed and each team was asked to play a specific game. The teachers were asked to identify how the games played by them could be used to teach mathematics. When the teams made their presentation, the result was amazing. From chess to skipping, the teachers could find the possibility of using games to help children understand different mathematical concepts in an easy way. A teacher said though he was aware of these games, it was for the first time that he was convinced that they could be used to teach mathematics and improve students’ learning capacity.

Shikshana Mantapa convenor and physician Sanjiv Kulkarni said many of the traditional games had been designed using mathematical formulas. Amazing results could be seen if they were blended with the modern education system. Though it was possible to teach other subjects such as language and science through some of the games, Shikshana Mantapa was concentrating on mathematics as the pass percentage in this subject was not encouraging. Dr. Kulkarni said neither the children were weak nor the teachers incompetent. But teaching methods should be revived. The problem started with schooling, where teaching was more blackboard-oriented and killed the creativity and independent thinking. Teachers, parents, and officials had the impression that games and education were different and games came in the process of learning. “This notion should go, and we have to explore possibilities of involving games in teaching,” he said.

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