Mathematical thinking, Ability, and Analysis have to emphasize a lot more than just being able to solve arithmetic, geometry, or algebra problems. One has to develop a whole new perspective of looking at things, getting down to the basics, whether numerical, structural, analytical, or logical. Math is about finding patterns in and around us and then analyzing the underlying patterns. When we are teaching a mathematical approach or instructions to students, one has to leverage visuals, models, structures, formative assessments, to develop strategic thinking. The goal of education should focus on enabling students to see underlying structures, find order in chaos, whether it’s in a math problem, in society, or in nature. Through transformative learning concepts and innovations teachers shoudl strive to make math study an enjoyable journey, transforming it from drudgery to artistry.
Math is not just what we learnt in high school, the implicit and straightforward part of the subject. It is full of interesting theoretical and applied concepts. Helping students uncover beauty and wonder in math, unleashing the creativity and innovation is what leads to great mathematical thinking.
For today’s Gen Z developing an attribute of “Math as a life skill” is an imperative. Developing a wining math mindset is a journey and fraught with many anxieties and challenges. We are used to hearing the common phrases like “I just can’t do math”, “I don’t have the genes for math”, “Math is not my cup of tea”, “I was never any good at math”, etc. This introduces us to a whole new world, where people experience feelings of stress, anxiety when faced with math-related scenarios. Math anxiety affects millions of people across the globe and is related to poor math ability in school and later during adulthood.
Math is often assumed as a difficult subject, but it is not. In our school days we must have encountered problems on Distances, Trains, Blood relations, Patterns & Series used to give most of us the nightmares. So, When children are faced to answer problems related to trains, most of them must have felt like throwing themselves towards the train leading to Math anxiety and phobia. What is math anxiety anyway? It is the behavioral response exhibited by most of the children when learning, practicing, and understanding math concepts.
Addressing Math Anxiety in Kids
Children who have math anxiety usually believe that they are bad at the subject and as a result hate it. Research says that children with higher math anxiety tend to score less in math tests.
Hence it is very essential to find ways to help children overcome math anxiety and develop a love for the subject at a young age. Instead of taking math as just a subject, it is necessary to understand that math is a key skill of the 21st century. We can say that the principles of mathematics govern everything around us and without having a good understanding of mathematics, one can face lots of difficulties in the future. Pythagoras said:
“There is geometry in the humming of strings, there is music in the spacing of spheres”
In today’s world where things are changing rapidly, the Indian education system is fraught with the rote learning method. Children should be made to understand the “why” rather than “what” for any concept that they learn. If children develop these reasoning skills, then learning becomes enjoyable and great results can be realized.
In my view, to curb mathemophobia Children should practice worksheets, aptitude exercises, and puzzles designed based on their grades and curriculum. With a thorough assessment of a child’s strengths and weaknesses, the schools and private tutoring institutions should adopt adaptive learning methods and develop tailored lesson plans to remediate the learning gaps, thus helping them scale newer heights. Learning becomes great fun if mental, physical, and mathematical models are used in the process of constructing and understanding concepts.
Regular assessments designed based on specific, measurable, and realistic goals are a must to understand the level of math understanding by the student. The results must be analyzed, and corrective actions should be initiated accordingly. Regular connections with parents are necessary to provide a holistic view of the students learning journey. Regular and constant feedback/suggestions from parents are vital in molding the student persona.
India is a land of great culture and traditions that have stood the test of time, flourished. We have seen great progress over time in the education landscape. India is a land which has seen greats like Aryabhata, Varahamihira, and Brahmagupta, who with their remarkable inventions in math, physics, and astronomy have startled the world and contributed immensely.
Albert Einstein once said,
We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.
We have greater responsibility to take the legacy forward and make our future generations excel and create wonders in math.