Teaching of Mathematics

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Greetings to all our readers from The Progressive Teacher.

Rita Wilson
Rita Wilson

Greetings to all our readers from The Progressive Teacher.

The first thing the word mathematics brings to mind is confusion and boredom. The primary reason for that is the abstract teaching of the subject. As the students do not find any practical application they question the need for learning mathematics. The best reason I find to teach mathematics is that it is essential for solving problems of all kinds. I would not be exaggerating if I say that mathematics is the mother of all sciences. It has contributed immensely to the present day science and technological developments. Not only is mathematics taught to prepare students for the fields of science, technology and engineering but it also incorporates in students skills essential for the twenty-first century citizen.

It is my view that mathematics is the most practical and logical subject taught in schools. It is the only subject that is used in every walk of life and one cannot run away from it; for example even to buy a cup of coffee, you need mathematics. If you as a teacher co-relate every topic in the book to real life situations then mathematics would become logical and interesting from being boring and confusing. When you sit down to make a lesson plan, keep two things in mind – firstly, how to relate the present topic with everyday life and second, how would you teach this topic to your younger self. Keeping in mind these two questions will make mathematics teaching alive.

Parents often say in front of their children, ‘I could never do mathematics when I was in school’. Pupils can be led to believe that understanding mathematics is predetermined; you either get it or you don’t. I find it interesting that there is a stigma associated with being illiterate but being innumerate can be a badge of honour to some pupils. We need to change this.

There is too much emphasis on memorizing past question papers and formulae, disassociating from the true understanding of rules of mathematics. To address this problem it is vital to create enthusiasm for mathematics as early as possible. By appealing to students’ competitive nature, the teacher can create an enthusiastic environment for mathematics. Having an interactive classroom can facilitate discussion and will lead students to ask questions. As a teacher you have to be prepared to move away from the lesson plan if important questions arise in the classroom. Students need to know if their future career may require a mathematics qualification so that they do not rule themselves out of a vocation later on. One student was surprised to discover that to become a nutritionist, one requires mathematics.

Not every lesson can have out of the box thinking. There will be times that simply require practicing text-book problems. However, if most lessons are made interactive, a few text-book problem solving lessons will not take away the interest in mathematics.

This issue of The Progressive Teacher is dedicated to teaching of mathematics and a number of practioners have given their views on the subject. Yaman Gauhar shares with us how he made teaching of LCM come alive to Class VI students; Pardeep Wadhwa is of the opinion that there is enough scope for correlation in mathematics, yet the teachers generally isolate its teaching from other subjects and life; according to Sarita Mathur to be able to ‘do’ math mentally or otherwise falls under skill development; Mausumi Dutta wants teachers to encourage dyscalculic children to visualize math problems, especially word problems, by drawing.

These varied articles in the present issue will prove to you that teaching of mathematics can be made joyful, practical and full of fun. Hence, it is our duty as teachers to make this subject interesting as mathematics lays the foundation of survival in adult life. The next issue will deal with teaching of science. I call upon the science teachers to kindly share their best practices with all teachers through the columns of The Progressive Teacher. I await your contributions in teaching of science. Wishing you all a happy monsoon session in school

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson
rita@progressiveteacher.in

Rita Wilson has over 40 years of rich experience as educationist including over 30 years of experience in school leadership positions. She is the former Chief Executive and Secretary Council for the ICSE, New Delhi. She is a consultant to a number of corporate houses and educational institutions. She is serving as a Member of the Board of Governors/Managing Committees of some of the most prestigious schools and colleges of the country. She has vast exposure to the education systems of Japan, Germany, England, Thailand, Singapore, Sharjah and Dubai. She has initiated, conducted and organised workshops for school teachers and principals all over India With a B.A. (Hons) English Literature, M.A., M.Phil. (English Literature), B.Ed. to her credit, she has edited two series of English readers and work-books for school children.