Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Math Ability

Mrs. Janakiraman's favorite line in our 10th grade math class was "If I can do math so can each one of you. I was never considered good at maths and now I am a high school maths teacher" When we heard that for the first time, we did not know what to make of that statement. She offered no elaboration on the theme so we arrived at independent conclusions about it.

Maybe she meant it was a really easy subject to master and required no special talent, or perhaps being a high school math teacher was no measure of mathematical aptitude or proficiency. By far the worst interpretation was we as a class were decidedly obtuse but there was hope for us yet. She was trying to be our inspiration by being self-deprecating.

At any rate, she made us work hard, follow a well defined regimen to problem solving and managed to completely demystify math before the year was out. There was no room for imagination or creativity but it sure got the job done. Irrespective of our academic abilities we were all able to see a problem, approach the solution methodically and most often get the answer right.

That was very empowering specially to those among us who had until then been labeled a lost cause as far as success in math. It did a lot to boost their self-confidence. Reading this news article
about chimps and college students being at par in mental math makes me consider Mrs. Janakiraman's statement in entirely new light.

1 comment:

ggop said...

HC,
Slightly OT but I think you will enjoy Taaren Zameen par - Aamir Khan's new movie. The film does confuse issues at times notably differently abled vs kids with learning disabilities but that was relatively minor.

I thought of your blog posts on the schooling system while watching the movie.