Throughout history, Mathematics have evolved independently in different prehistoric and ancient civilisations to serve different needs.
One of the first imperatives was trade. After all, everyone wants to ensure one gets the value of one’s trade and this demands mensuration standards. Since ancient times, the Nile flooded annually in late summer and the silt made the floodplain very fertile. However, the floods also erased boundary markers thus giving an impetus to the development of a tool to accurately redetermine boundaries: plane geometry. The imperatives of agriculture also led to the development of calendars. We may trace the development of every branch of mathematics to similar necessities.
Today, the engineering marvels that are our buildings, bridges, aircraft, cars, and all the technology that we take for granted, stand testament to what we have achieved in applying Mathematical concepts with Science.
Whether we realise it or not, we use math skills daily. In some form or other, mathematics is inescapable in our daily lives. From shopping to cooking to planning one’s day, everyone uses simple equations. As a teacher, I am often asked questions like, “Why do we have to learn maths?” or my favourite, “What’s the point of Algebra?’
These are questions I take seriously and seek to respond by making the learning of math real and relevant for our students.
At THS, students are guided to ascertain what their interests are, and then teachers connect mathematics to these interests. For instance, if a student is interested in Botany, I would link this interest to the Fibonacci sequence - it is a revelation to learn that the pattern in which branches of trees grow or in which the seeds of a sunflower are naturally arranged are according to a mathematical formula. Likewise, if a student has an aptitude for art, it would be interesting for her to learn that all the great masters had painted to the very precise proportions of the Golden Rectangle. These are ways to engage students with the relevance of what is taught and to enable them to grasp mathematics as part of the real world.
Mathematics must become interesting from when children first learn simple arithmetic. Hence, children will learn that mathematics is fun, that finding a solution gives one a sense of achievement. A love for mathematics acquired when young, stays with a person for life.
It’s always lamentable when parents tell me that they never liked mathematics or that they do not understand it. Such dislike or disinterest is very likely to unconsciously rub off onto the child. I had once asked my father-in-law why he enjoys solving mathematical puzzles. He revealed that his father had taught him how pleasurable these are and he’d acquired a love for mathematics when he was quite young.
It is exactly such a love for maths that we try to foster at THS. We find ways to make math more engaging and fun to encourage interest in the subject and hence, empower our students to fully realise their potential in the discipline. Here are some pictures which show how learning mathematics can be fun in the classrooom:
The first picture is of young students learning simple geometrical shapes in a playful manner and the next one shows how they learn about numbers by manipulating units and tens …
In a class in which students were introduced to the concepts of ratios and proportions, they learnt to apply that by having to change the proportions to a recipe for lemonade …
The symbols of mathematics mean the same everywhere and the rules of mathematics are also the same everywhere. It is a language with a script and grammar that are understood by everyone trained to do so. It is apart from music, the only universal language for all of humanity.