Are you worried that your child has an aversion towards Maths? This is a problem many parents face but fret not, you can change this attitude. Here are tips to help your child ace the numbers game!
By Dr Priscilla J S Selvaraj
The Annual Status of Education Report (2018) by Pratham has made shocking revelations about the mathematical skills of Indian students — there has been minimal improvement since 2008. Rather, in some cases, arithmetical skills have actually worsened. A Times Of India article published on 16 January, citing the report, stated: '56 per cent of students in Class VIII couldn't divide a 3-digit number with a single-digit one; 72 per cent students in Class V couldn't do division at all and, 70 per cent of Class III students weren't able to do any subtraction'. For the 2018 survey, a total of 5,46,527 children between the ages of 3 and 16 were interviewed.
Acclaimed mathematician Ritabrata Munshi, recipient of the prestigious ICTP Ramanujan Prize and the 2017 Infosys Prize in Mathematical Sciences, believes that the report, though shocking, is not surprising. "Primary education is in bad shape and I know that there are people seriously examining how to turn things around. Hopefully they will come up with some new ideas," he says.
"At the primary level there are only two ways to teach. The worst way, of course, is that you make students work on mathematical equations like a routine task. It is like making them run around the field without letting them play in it. The better way is to get them involved and make the subject interesting. Maths can be easily made interesting with the use of visual aids. The main issue, however, is that we need dedicated Maths teachers. If the government gives some incentives to them, maybe that will help," adds Ritabrata.
In Maths, children need role models like a Dhoni or a Kohli. If we tell them stories about mathematicians and scientists like Ramanujan and JC Bose — their achievements and what they did for science and the country — maybe then, students will be inspired to pursue the subject. — Ritabrata Munshi, acclaimed Mathematician
But did you know that the fear of this subject is a serious problem. In fact, there is even a phobia dealing with this subject! 'Mathophobia’ can be defined as a feeling of fear, tension and anxiety about one’s ability to do Maths and thus, interferes with one’s performance in Maths. So, how can you help your child who is gripped with this fear? “Always do what you are afraid to do,” said the American philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson. And, that is exactly what you should encourage your child to do — not to shy away from Maths but rather, to embrace it.
Here are ten tips, based on inputs from Dr Robinson Thamburaj, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, Madras Christian College, to help your child overcome Mathophobia.
Ritabrata Munshi is the recipient of several awards including the SwarnaJayanti Fellowship (2012), Birla Science Prize (2013), Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (2015), Infosys Prize (2017) and ICTP Ramanujan Prize (2018). He was elected a fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 2016 and was an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians, Rio de Janeiro, 2018.
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