MATHEMATICS teaching in today¡¯s school is text book dominated, concerned primarily with the manipulation of symbols and, all too often, largely removed from the real world of the child. Mathematics enjoys a reputation, which is clearly less then inspiring.

Why are there such large-scale negative attitudes towards mathematics?

Endless repetition, meaningless memorization, a never ¨C ending series of worksheets or practice exercises, and general lack of interest and understanding are but a few other reasons that might be listed. Children exist in a world that they are very eager to numerous artifical situations to which they are required to respond.
What do children really need?
Mathematics is not a looker subject like art, a listener subject like music, a looker & listener subject like dance, but a looker , listener and doer subject like craft.
Mathematics is no more a filtering subject but a fulfilling one.
Mathematics is in the mind and is man made. Once concepts are caught and not taught, children can be seen blossoming into self-learners, thereby promoting confidence level in other subjects as well.
Mathematics should not be a body of rules and formulate to be learnt at the dictate of a teacher, but is to be made as a study of patterns, relations, and structures through active involvement in learning process and requiring help only in communication, symbolic or otherwise.
Merely providing every learner with the traditionally handed down box geometrical instrument is inadequate and it is to be complemented and supplemented by a bag of manipulative math learning kits for the child¡¯s use.
Math phobia should be remedied through authentic learning requiring hands-on experience with kits
The promising approach to the teaching of problem solving is the use of mathematics laboratory.
Children really need a mathematics program that that is very much alive, vibrant, relevant and meaningful; a program that paves the way to seek and understand the world around them.
What is a mathematics laboratory?
The Mathematics Laboratory is a place, rich in manipulative material, to which children have ready access to handle them, perform mathematical experiments, play mathematical games, solve mathematical puzzles and become involved in other activities.
An integral part of the mathematics laboratory is the manipulation of objects. Through manipulating concrete material, the child is better able to bridge the gap between the real and the abstract world.
It is also a process and a procedure for teaching and learning mathematics. The laboratory approach allows pupils to set up mathematical experiments for the purpose of discovering some mathematical principle, pattern, or process. Even teachers can be a part of the process, group discussions, and individual projects,
A mathematics laboratory is activity-centered; the child is placed in problem solving situation and through self exploration and discovery, he or she provides a solution based on his or her experience, needs, and interests.
What is the purpose of a mathematics laboratory?
To provide readily accessible rich manipulative materials.
To develop physical involvement in order to add new ideas to their cognitive structure.
To make children experience with real ¨C world embodiments of mathematical ideas.
To emphasis on learning by doing.
To provide children with opportunities to discover and understand mathematical concept through their active involvement in solving problems
To make children to think, to look for patterns and ask questions.
To develop an attitude of inquiry.
What are manipulative materials?
Manipulative material are objects or things that the pupil is ¡°able to feel, touch, handle, and move. They may be real objects which have social application in our everyday affairs, or they may be objects which are used to represent an idea¡±
Manipulative material appeal to several senses and are characterized by a physical involvement of pupils in an active learning situation. Hence, not all teaching aids or instructional materials are manipulative materials.
Manipulative materials provide tools for problem solving. When a child has an aid to solve problem that is always available in the mathematics laboratory, his self-confidence is increased, because he does not need to depends on the fallibility of this memory.
Unorganized way of using manipulative materials fails to attain important goals of mathematics instructions. Children should not learn merely to manipulate objects. Children should use this manipulation of objects as a means of learning important mathematical process, principles, and skills. The use of manipulative materials is not an end in itself, and care must be taken that they do not become ¡® seductive shibboleths¡¯.

Only when manipulative materials help children understand the abstract nature of mathematics and assist them in becoming more efficient problem solvers, is the use of manipulative materials justified.

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