Making maths teaching fun

To many students Mathematics is a hard nut to crack and they find it difficult to learn the concepts and techniques

Published - September 05, 2011 05:18 pm IST

A teacher should encourage a healthy discussion or question-answer session on the topics covered in class. Photo: AP

A teacher should encourage a healthy discussion or question-answer session on the topics covered in class. Photo: AP

It is known that mathematics is the queen of sciences there by indicating the importance it occupies. It plays an important role in most of the science. The ideology and the principles of mathematics are utilised in many of the sciences namely Astronomy, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Technology and Social sciences etc.

It is the only discipline which has made inroads into many scientific disciplines there by helping their development. We cannot visualise the developments and progress in these areas without mathematics. Thus it is of a paramount importance to impart the subtle concepts and techniques of mathematics to the students, who may be tomorrow's engineers, entrepreneurs, planners, scientists and educationists who shape India.

To many students Mathematics is a hard nut to crack and they find it difficult to learn the concepts and techniques. Mostly it is the phobia that keeps them away from this discipline and search for new pastures. The teacher introducing this subject has to take extra care to inculcate interest and make them understand the basic ideas of the subject at primary level.

The students who have a flair for the mathematics can easily pick up the ideas of the subject reasonably fast and some with a little hard work can pick up its threads. The problem is with those who are averse to it. They are in that state because it was not properly introduced to them at the basic level.

The teacher must concentrate at that level on those students and elicit reasons for their fears. He can remove or reduce the components responsible for that using different teaching methods. The teacher should come to the level of the student and implant the ideas with examples from the real life so as to easily drive home the point. This extra effort will go a long way in the academics of the student.

Teaching of mathematics up to high school or plus 2 levels involves mainly derivation of formulae and substitution of given data in it. This sends a wrong signal that mathematics is mainly formula substitution. In this process, the assumptions or the principles underlying the theorem or formula and the different areas of the application are neglected. Efforts should be made to teach the assumptions underlying and the logic involved in the derivation along with the areas of applications of the result.

Memorisation of the proof of theorem should be discouraged. The student is likely to resort to this procedure, only when he is not aware of the logical sequence of the steps involved, there by taxing his memory. Mathematical logic should be part of the curriculum at different level of teaching. Mathematical logic provides analytical thinking and logical approach to problem solving.

Classroom discussions on the topics taught forms very important component in acquiring knowledge.

The teacher should encourage a healthy discussion or question-answer session on the topics covered in the class. Many teachers do not give importance or encourage it. When there is a discussion, the teacher can gauge the extent of understanding of the topic and supplement it if necessary. Some teachers do not encourage asking questions on the topics taught. This reduces the students to play the role of spectators. Even when we insist on them to ask questions they prefer to be silent. Group discussions should form an integral part of teaching.

The habit of reading the prescribed text book or reference book should be encouraged. Many students prefer to use study material which are oriented to examination rather than textbooks.

Another reason for this may be lack of ability understand the language in text book as such, look for simplified versions which are no substitutes for the prescribed books. Preparation of running notes from the class lecture or from a prescribed book should be encouraged. If the student is equipped with this, there is no need to run after the guides which is the order of the day. This helps the student in grasping the subject and remembering it.

Assignments form an integral part of teaching methodology. The pupils should be encouraged to solve them independently so as to develop the skills of problem solving. They can discuss the solutions of the assignments among themselves after submitting the solutions independently. This also provides a feed back to the teacher on the extent of comprehension of the topic.

Different topics in the course content should be covered in the specified order. There is always a sequence of ideas or a systemic order which exists in the content of the course. It is known that the knowledge learnt in the earlier chapters will be utilised in the later ones. The underlying connection of topics as far as possible should be taught. This aspect is very important in mathematics teaching.

Teaching process is two way dealing with the teacher and the taught. The teacher should use all the techniques and tools to deliver the goods not only to the bright student but also should concentrate more on the dull and average student.

At the same time those students in turn should also try to improve their learning process.

(Dept. of Mathematics, Humanities, Basic Technology, Godavari Institute of Engineering and Technology, Rajahmundry)

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