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Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Mathematics Phobia | Editorial - The Sentinel Assam

A section of teachers and guardians are responsible for the widespread phobia against mathematics, explains Editorial.

Photo: The Sentinel Assam
Instead of making it unnecessarily complicated, explaining it with clarity and ease would do a world of good to young learners. Speaking on the occasion of National Mathematics Day at a high school in Nagaon, mathematician and educationist Dr Tarakeshwar Chaudhury spoke of how a mind without fear can appreciate the inner logic of mathematics and revel in its joys. It is a timely call considering the high attrition rates in State schools due to students coming to grief because of mathematics. The pedagogical issues involved in writing good textbooks and effectively teaching math in the classroom is for teachers and education planners to sort out. 

But the more problematic aspect is the public perception that mathematics is a hard subject, its formulae and equations seemingly dry and almost inhuman. If you have a peculiar knack for it, you will get the answer right and score full marks; if not, you will score zero — so goes the popular notion...

An enigma to Western mathematicians to this day, Ramanujan attributed his intuitive genius to goddess Namagiri, his family deity; Carl Gauss, revered as the Prince of Mathematicians, came from a family of illiterate labourers; Rene Descartes was as much a mathematician as a philosopher, a gentleman soldier with a delicate constitution; Kurt Godel — who proved that no mathematical system can be fully complete and consistent, because in any such system, there are statements that cannot be proved true or false — starving himself to death because of his paranoid fear about germs. 

As for girls, they can take inspiration from the late Maryam Mirzakhani of Iran, the first woman mathematician to be honoured with the Fields Medal, the Nobel Prize equivalent in mathematics...

The language of mathematics may look intimidating and alien, yet it is ubiquitous in various activities around us, particularly in this digital age. 

Source: The Sentinel Assam