Math is Fun

Are you anxious about Math? Worry not; there are several ways to make it a fun subject, says Gauri Rane

Updated: Aug 06, 2013, 13:18 PM IST

Are you anxious about Math? Worry not; there are several ways to make it a fun subject, says Gauri Rane

Everyone feels that Math comes more easily to some students than to others. Mathematicians however say that anyone could develop Math expertise provided it is taught creatively in a class.

One finds Math difficult because one cannot visualize it unlike literature or social sciences. “It is akin to learning a new script like for instance Chinese. If we could train our minds to visualize numbers it would bring down all fears,” explains Dinesh Victor, MD, SIP Academy India. He illustrates his point with an example. The digit two for instance, he says, could represent a swan with a long beautiful neck, and the number eight a coiled snake.

While programs like UCMAS are breaking all popularity records, other innovative methods of fighting Math phobia are fast gaining momentum. UCMAS is a child development program based on Mental Math and the Abacus that boosts brainpower in children in the age group of 4 to 14.

Math teachers are trying out different methods to help students break their jinx against the enemy subject. At Podar International School, teachers employ a method called “the treasure hunt” for students of class VII, IX and X. “Students are divided in to two groups. Each group makes a map and a list of hints based on Mathematical concepts like Math and Bearings, Loci and Ratio. These are written in Mathematical language as well,” informs Sarla Sharma, Math teacher. Podar also encourages collaborative learning where students who need special attention are motivated by other students.

Dipendra Mathur, another Math teacher, uses philosophy in his class. He says, “It is difficult to explain the concept of imaginary numbers and their importance in real life. So, I start the class by asking questions like is there God?”

Sometimes, he narrates interesting anecdotes, which serve as good ice-breakers. Stories like how once Albert Einstein told his professor that there was nothing like darkness and that darkness was in fact he absence of light, inspire the class.

Sometimes teachers have to give in to a student’s demand as well. “Today, my class asked if they could play light background music while solving problems. I was pleasantly surprised that this actually enhanced their concentration,” says Mathur.

As students graduate to higher grades, Math concepts become a bit difficult. Divesh Bhatija, founder, Dinasim Learning, a math training institute has found a way of helping students to enjoy Math. His training methodology includes sports like Angry Birds, basketball, soccer and even cricket.

“We aid the teachers in making the subject fun. We make two teams of students like in cricket. While the fielding team plays, enjoys and keeps fit, the batting team calculates runs, overs, the bowler’s economy rate etc.,” informs Bhatija. The basket in basketball is used to teach the students all about angles and trigonometry.

Fear of math may be a stirring topic of discussion, but with the new tricks and techniques it does seem to be much more fun.

TIPS FOR PARENTS

  • Be patient and spend time with the child
  • Provide help and support early on and not when the child is in class IX or X
  • Use different tools and be creative (like when you explain the solar system)
  • If the child is getting stuck or cannot understand mathematical concepts, communicate with teachers
  • Make the child participate in mathematical competitions/ programs