1. What is the change in the curricular placement of mathematics over the years?
2. Why do children by and large exhibit negative attitude towards mathematics?
3. What do children really need?
4. What is mathematics laboratory?
5. How does a math lab function?
6. What are math learning kits?
7. What is the role of a teacher in a math lab?
8. What is the experience of teachers who have adopted this practical approach in learning teaching mathematics after re-orientation courses?
1. What is the change in the curricular placement of mathematics over the years?
Mathematics was not taught as mathematics but arithmetic, geometry and algebra. There were even separate books and separate teachers. It was not a compulsory subject to be learnt from the beginning. Girls were considered weak and were exempted from studying mathematics. It was considered a non language subject and a combined minimum average of all subjects was enough for a pass in an exam.
With mathematisation and modeling, the importance of mathematics and need for mastery in it have sky-rocketed and to exceeded the expectations of teachers, teachers 每 educators, and curriculum makers.
It is not widely know that we are in the platinum age of mathematics, what with arithmetic becoming arithmetics, algebra algebras, geometry geometries (the latest being fractal geometry) and even logic logics (the latest being fuzzy logic). Unfortunately mathematics educator has not taken note of this and is almost primitive in his knowledge and approach.
2. Why do children by and large exhibit negative attitude towards mathematics?
Absence of mathematical climate at home and school environment is the most palpable. Mathematics teachers are rarely lovers of the subject. The other subject teachers would rather avoid mathematics than exhibit avidity in explaining the mathematical aspects in their own subject.
Teachers generally assume that they have already been taught the best way and hence continue the same method. So, they are not ready to change their method of teaching or like being questioned. They are not aware of what they missed in learning and to what extent they are placed of a disadvantage on that account.
In the present method children experience endless repetition, meaningless memorization, formulae without their interconnectedness, absence of mathematics in cultural programmes, assembly talks and bulletin presentations. To put it in a nutshell. Learning has become ritualized.
If only children get the messages through the functioning f the senses with visualization taking a prime role, the passage to formation of ideas in their minds will be smooth and swift and no liner bitter.
3. What do children really need?
Children really need a mathematics programme that is very much alive, vibrat, relevant and meaningful; a programme that paves the way to seek and understand the world around them in the stance of numeracy.
Mathematics is not a looker subject like art, a listener subject like music, a looker and listener subject like dance, but a looker, listener and doer subject like craft.
Mathematics is in the mind and is man-made and hence need based. Once concepts are caught and not taught, children can be seen blossoming into confident self learners. Incidentally confidence level in other subjects gets promoted.
Formal mathematics is inhibitive without its roots in life situation and environmental practices. Mathematics needs to be seen as a study of patterns, relations and structures through active involvement in learning process, requiring help only in communication, symbolic or otherwise. A distortion, that mathematics centres round computation is raising its head in the public view without realizing that it is an impediment and misdirection.
There has not been genuine concern in mathematics teachers as even today one could see children*s equipment consisting mostly of a box of geometrical instruments. It is not yet realized that it is to be complemented and supplemented with kits of mathematics learning devices, conducive to learn the entire gamut of school mathematics.
4. What is mathematics laboratory?
One has to be a junior scientist before one could become a junior mathematician. This is mostly true up to VIII grade (age up to 14)
As in a science lab, experiments are performed to find out the outcomes, discover happening, ascertain the relations, etc., so too in a math lab. In a lab atmosphere, children individually or in small groups perform experiments with appropriate materials and turn out record sheets either as preparatory or as affirmative of what is taken up in class room teaching.
Abstraction is the hallmark of mathematical thinking and it is facilitated through multi embodiment principle which centres round independence of particular object, shape, size etc., the notable example being number which is the most abstract.
A math lab is not a regular class room with black board (or green board) and teacher guiding the process of learning.
It is a separate place set apart where children from class III go regularly, perform experiments as in a science lab and have their recording made, which are not expected to be uniform always.
5. How does a math lab function?
The prescribed curriculum is viewed as interactive learning with worksheets and lab experience with record sheets.
The math lab will be in charge of a lab teacher and an assistant. They will keep ready the materials required for the experiment or exploration, according to the school*s year long schedule of work.
The furniture is movable to sit individual study or group work.
The materials for lab study need not always be special kits but plain low cost materials suitable for manipulation.
The lab teacher will have guidance sheets accompanied by record sheets for students.
Time allocated will cover the interval for children to leave their regular class, move to the lab at the appointed time and go back after lab work to resume their learning in the classes.
6. What are math learning kits?
To trace the history of this ushering in of math learning kits, one needs to know that Ramanujan Museum has completed ten years of pioneering service in conducting the only personalia museum in the world, to project Ramanujan as a super 每 student star.
Since the inspirational value of Ramanujan is immense in the school mathematics education, (cf class ten text book in Mathematics for Matriculation of Tamil Nadu Text book Corporation, 2004) the Museum had from the beginning, Math Education Centre as adjunct with numerous programmes for children, parents and teachers.
Mr. P.K.Srinivasan, the curator 每 director has given his expert guidance I all this innovative and sustaining programmes of school math education. He has been instrumental in developing math learning kits with inbuilt features contributing to experience underlying puzzle, problem and project phases of solving spree within competencies of children.
The kits are colourful, smooth, pleasant and durable and they are suitable for sharing among companions.
  They cater to ICSE, CBSE, NCERT and all States Math Curriculums.
They lend themselves to presentation in annual math expo I schools.
7. What is the role of a teacher in a math lab?
The teacher ceases to be of telling type. S/he shows genuine concern for children receiving authentic learning by avoiding authoritarian teaching. S/he sees to it that hat children learn are born out of conviction and experience and not acceptance of the authority of spoken or written word.
S/he welcomes questions and helps children to find the answers by their own effort. S/he promotes peer learning. Doubts and conjectures will be welcomed and well received.
S/he recognizes the mathematical core of the personality of each child and nurtures it.
What has been resorted hither to and what is widely practiced even to day is rote learning and memorization. S/he sees to that, familiarization and frequency of usage, secure the outcome pleasantly without phobia.
The gaps in introduction of various concepts at each stage get naturally bridged and extensions perceived with gusto. S/he encourages flexibility and freedom of choice in arriving at solutions.
What is the experience of teachers who have adopted this practical approach in learning teaching mathematics after re-orientation courses?
Through hands on, kick off, take off experience, triggered by the use of kits, teachers are able to help children learn more mathematics in less time and with less drill.
Kits are no more extra 每 curricular, co-curricular but curricular. More over though use of kits, children can be helped to pass from local axiomatisation to global axiomatisation. They see the role of example, non example and counter example, the difference between definition and description, true and false statements.
Attainment of mathematics cannot be considered only in terms of written tests with no open 每 ended questions. This results in al poor image of mathematics. This universal drawback is remedied by setting up a practical math test which requires least writing.
  Practical math test is almost a performance test. In a practical math test, children don`t write but do and leave responses in the form of manipulated and folded objects, use of dot sheets ruled sheets, square ruled sheets, isometric ruled sheets etc., according to instruction without verbal communication. In short it is considered a polytechnic approach.
Children`s eagerness to learn and enjoy what they learn is seen to be pronounced. Algebra is learnt naturally, as pattern and design language. What an experience to see children strut about saying &my own pattern, my own design*. Symbols become alive through interpretation.
Teachers exhibit insight in discovering mathematical learning, teaching, and use of wasted materials (drug stores, electrical good stores, Xeroxing centres, calendar sheets etc., through parents engaged in such a business.) for presenting math concepts at different stages.

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