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 reorientation 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 skyrocketed 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 manmade 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. 


8. 
What
is the experience of teachers who have adopted this
practical approach in learning teaching mathematics
after reorientation 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, cocurricular
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. 

