Manan Khurma has been a Mathematics educator since his college days. He founded Locus Education upon graduating from IIT Delhi in 2007 and trained over ten thousand students for IIT-JEE within the first few years of his career as an educator. This experience of teaching JEE aspirants helped him gain insight into how the youth of the country perceives and studies Math. Inspired by his understanding of the challenges faced by young students, Manan formulated a new way of teaching the subject – a math program called ‘Math by Reasoning’. This was also the genesis of Cuemath – an engaging platform that not only helps children master the subject, but also fall in love with it. Founded in 2013, Cuemath is steadily challenging the conventional way students have been taught math and is also inculcating a strong base of foundational skills in children that matter immensely in all areas from Advanced Math and Coding to Data and AI; hence empowering the next generation of problem solvers and decision makers in the world.
Math as a subject is based on logic and reasoning. Unlike most subjects, math cannot be memorised; conceptual understanding and application is pertinent to master the subject.
Unfortunately, math anxiety is real. Math anxiety, which is also called ‘numerophobia’, affects children and adults from across the world, and India is no different.
In a recent survey conducted by Cuemath, it was revealed that 82 per cent of students are fearful of mathematics across grade 7 to 10. This fear comes from struggling to understand abstract concepts while staring at a board.
However, the subject has the potential to be taught in context with real world and practical application. Math taught this way can reduce anxiety towards the subject.
Despite teaching techniques evolving over time, math is still taught conventionally i.e. focusing on abstract concepts without emphasizing on logic. This mode of instruction stunts imagination and creative approach towards learning mathematics. As a result, students lose interest and are demotivated to learn math.
Need for dynamic classrooms capable of captivating interactions
Classroom learning focuses on a larger group and is not inclusive of personal attention to each student. An average Indian classroom has 1 teacher teaching anything between 35-60 children. However, no two students can have the same understanding level, which creates lot of confusion in young minds and they tend to get frustrated over time. The lack of personal learning, clubbed with teaching a subject in traditional ways eventually results in diminishing engagement.
This engagement has further reduced in this digital age, where kids tend to have shorter attention spans as compared to earlier generations. Here arises a need to incorporate technology and visuals to make the teaching content interesting enough to keep the chld hooked. This in turn will help them learn better and understand concepts at the very core.
The future of classroom is not based on conventional setup of quiet and boring situation; it’s going to be visual and virtual and practical. Math being the core of most real-world situations needs special attention and advanced teaching solutions to create the invincible problem solvers of tomorrow.
Importance of developing real- world context
Students relate more with a subject when they can use it in their everyday life or when they know it has importance beyond school and grades. Math is not a friend to most of these children because they are deprived of its power. The progressive pedagogies learning model provides an opportunity for students to see math as power.
In simple words, learning math should be about doing over watching i.e. instead of following a teacher solve a problem, a student should start solving problems after grasping a concept with the teacher there to act as a guide. This method of learning focuses on identifying student-specific competencies and abilities and building on the same.
It’s not just in math. Let’s take another example. You can’t learn how to play an instrument by watching a YouTube video! The same principle works with math and coding. Instead of passive observation, kids actively learn by doing, supported by positive reinforcement and confidence building.
Cues to discovering answers instead of simple memorization of rules
With the outbreak of pandemic and most schools turning to online mode since last year, this learning by doing method has become a distant dream. As students are increasingly becoming passive learners, the joy of learning and discovering and creating is getting lost.
Today it is more necessary than ever that students learn from a platform that not only offers interactive one on one classes but also motivates them to unravel answers by providing minimal cues and ample challenges. For example, if students are given problems, say about pizza, they would be more interested in getting to the answers than if we talk about mere numbers and fractions.
The end goal should always be to enhance mathematical thinking, logic, and intuitive ability.
Focus on intuitive learning to develop logical thinking
When students understand the ‘Why’ behind ‘What’ and learn by doing, they start perceiving problems intuitively and solve them with analytical thinking rather than stored, memorised equations and formulas. When math meets technology, visuals and real-life scenarios, it becomes power and that power is the ultimate motivation to inculcate mathematical approach. This way, every child can develop sense of comfort for math rather than fearing it.
Today, with the world realizing the power of AI, data science and mathematics, it is vital that children develop this natural love for the subject to become leaders of tomorrow. It is vital that they find their Math-O-tivation.