THE HUMAN BRAIN IS DESIGNED TO UNDERSTAND MATH
A majority of people are not comfortable with Math
An overwhelming majority of us HATED Math when we were growing up. Even if Hate is too strong a word, most of us definitely didn’t look forward to Math irrespective of how strongly our parents desired to see us evolving into Math Geniuses. Now, as parents, we see ourselves longing for the same thing but this time, for our little ones.
But can anybody guess, how the current lot of students feel about Math? Will they ever truly understand the essence behind Math and embrace it? And if not, how severe will the impact be? Think about it, practically all the math we use in adult life (excluding rocket scientists and astrophysicists), is primary school math.
So the question is – are we equipping our children with duly required life skills? Are we making the foundations strong enough, so that skyscrapers can be built upon it. Are we taking sufficient efforts to make them believe that Math is not just a subject, but a way of life?
Rahul Khandelwal, the founder of Unlearn Kids scored 96% in Math in his grade 12 board examinations. Even then he could not appreciate that x+y =1 can represent a straight line. He spent 2 years unlearning and relearning concepts after finishing his schooling to appreciate everything he learnt in school. The unfathomable reality is, that he is not the only one to go through this. A formal education system and conventional teaching techniques can’t guarantee proficiency in Math. There is a lot more that needs to be offered.
The best example is the great mathematician Ramanujan, a man who inspired mathematicians across the world with his remarkable discoveries in Mathematics. Born and brought up in a small town in Tamil Nadu, Ramanujan challenged his circumstances and without any formal education, he made overwhelming contributions to the world of Mathematics.
Just to unravel the mystery around Math being tough, let’s ponder upon some very basic questions:
Ever hired a tutor to teach video games to your kids?
No One Ever has gone to a tuition centre to learn how to play Video Games. In fact video games, despite being highly technical and complicated, still, attract children. And they ALL are pretty good at it.
Why then do they not love and embrace math the same way?
The most probable answer is the sense of achievement and enjoyment that video games let your children feel – “YES, I HAVE DONE IT”. Surely, our children can feel that while experiencing math. No? Then why not?
These questions inculcated a strong desire in me, the desire of making Math fun.
What should be cured to cure a disease: Symptom or Root cause
Let’s look at it another way, if you keep getting fever again and again, would you keep taking paracetamol or get a diagnostic test done? The most probable answer is a Diagnostic Test. Then why is the approach different when it comes to math?
Every time a child does not perform well in exams, we ask her/ him to study hard. Nobody knows what problem the child is facing. All we tell them is to focus and study for longer hours and cut down on their play time. We tell our children that we want them to become a math genius but we forget to guide them on ‘how to become a math genius’. We leave them on their own without any direction or plan. The result is – they fear math! The genesis of this fear or any negative emotion for math tends to be much more deep rooted than commonly understood.How does one identify the root cause:
How does one identify the root cause:
Imagine the foundation of Math as a wall
Math is like a wall made of bricks. Each brick (concept) is linked to the other in one way or the other, vertically or horizontally. Each brick is also made up of small grains of clay (sub-concepts). We need to understand how these small grains of clay, that are the foundation of a wall, can be stronger. It is also important to know what makes the wall weaker.
- Some bricks are weak (Incomplete understanding of a concept in its entirety)
- Some joints are loose (Unable to make connections between the concepts)
- Some bricks are missing (Some fundamental l concepts are missing)
- Some bricks are wrongly placed. (Misconceptions acquired in early age)
- The clay is not properly set. (Micro obstacles that haven’t been scaled)
How do we strengthen the wall without breaking it? We need to understand the structure of each wall in order to make it stronger in the least possible time with maximum efficiency and to ensure the strengthening of base and growth of the wall as well.
You need to diagnose the unique and individual problems of each child by first identifying the tiny gaps, which have given birth to any of the above 5 issues. Once you are able to identify ALL the tiny learning gaps, then based on those gaps there should be a highly personalised learning path for the child. The path should be designed in such a way that it uses the child’s knowledge to build further upon it. One should be very careful while rectifying these gaps, there has to be a logical hierarchy in which the parent is planning to solve these gaps. One can’t simply start rectifying a gap when it is found as this will worsen the situation and end up in frustration for both parent and child. If done in a logical and chronological manner, it can ignite excitement in the child to learn Math enthusiastically as now the child is able to appreciate it.
Always remember helping the child during problem-solving is like a double edged sword, too much of help will leave nothing for the child to achieve and too less of help will leave the child with frustration. So a highly calibrated approach is required.
Help the child take baby steps, which we call NANO-SKILLS. Each student learns at her/ his own pace and can improve phenomenally over a period of time. Imagine if there is a child who is not able to climb from one staircase (Division) to another (Fraction) because of the height of the staircase, in that case, they are always waiting for somebody to put them on another staircase. Now imagine if we create hundreds of steps in between so that rather than climbing the child can easily crawl up at his own pace. So for the transition from division to fractions, we have 110 nano-skills as baby steps to make them learn the concept by themselves. The easiest way to learn Math is to begin from the grass root level, master the basics and then make your way up to the advanced levels.
These skills have been designed and developed on the basis of my extensive research spanning almost a decade of empowering both parents and their kids to learn Math with minimal efforts.
In short – I don’t think that the human brain can’t process math. We just have to teach it well.
If you know someone who has a child in Classes I – V, please share this article with them. You can learn more about us at www.unlearnkids.com/aboutus.