Pune: Mathematics phobia is embedded in a person from childhood and remains till death. Like any other phobia, it needs to be addressed urgently among children by educators, say education experts from Pune. Experts have also blamed it on school teachers for not making the subject interesting and likeable.
Wrong teaching methods
Experts claimed that teachers in schools are not qualified to teach mathematics. “The teachers who are now teaching mathematics might themselves have had mathematics fear in their childhood. Mathematics has to be taught compassionately and innovatively. Hardly 20 per cent of the teachers are qualified to teach mathematics in schools. There is lack of proper teaching methodology because a lot of teachers are not well-trained in teaching mathematics,” said Vipula Abhyankar, a retired mathematics professor.
“Children are unusually introduced to numbers at a very small age in pre-schools. At the age of 4 or 5, they are asked to count from 1 to 100, which will obviously be a bouncer for them.
They must be introduced to numbers systematically and methodologically which will enable them to understand what numbers are. Mathematics has to be experienced as it progresses. We have to allow the child to generate knowledge through the process of learning mathematics,” said Abhyankar.
Schools have to provide proper training to teachers regarding the content of the subject. Instead of telling them how to teach mathematics they have to know what has to be taught. Many teachers refer to guide books and try to fetch information from digital sources. In this process, they fail to understand the technique of teaching.
Deficiency in learning, understanding and teaching mathematics has come from its history, says Anil Gore, Director of Akansha Math Classes. “Before 1975, mathematics was not compulsory. Therefore, students passing Class 10 and 12 had no knowledge of mathematics. It was only after 1975 when Vasantdada Patil emphasised on making mathematics, science and English compulsory subjects to pass in secondary and higher secondary class,” said Gore.
“The trend of unqualified mathematics teachers has been followed over two decades. Almost 90 per cent of teachers teaching science and mathematics have degrees in BSc and BEd with specialisation in Zoology and Botany. The ones who have specialised in mathematics have taken jobs in banks, military establishments like research and weaponry units or elsewhere other than the teaching profession because of monetary interest,” said Gore.
Unfamiliar with numbers, symbols
“The chidlren’s heads spins when they look at numbers and symbols. Many children are not comfortable with mathematics language. If you teach a mathematics formula using an object, they find it easier to understand than learning it directly through numbers. So teachers have to focus more on conceptualisation. Teach them by relating formulas to real life examples and then translate it into mathematics language,” said Geeta Mahasabdhe, Director of Nav Nirmiti Learning Foundation.
‘Without mathematics, education will sink,’ believes Harish Butle, Founder of District Entrance Exam Performance Enhancement and Research (DEEPER). Butle said mathematics is an integral part of life. Calculation and numbers are required in each step of life. Therefore, one has to overcome the fear of mathematics.
“Teachers must approach the students’ anxiety and fear for mathematics. It can be cured if addressed at the preliminary stage by introducing the subject in an innovative and creative manner. One has to deal with at least simple calculation in daily life. Therefore, there is no escapism in numbers,” said Butle.