But Mathematics Can Be Fun

Updated: Jan 29 2003, 05:30am hrs
Talk about Mathematics and kids will tell you all the cons of the subject. Boring, dull are some of the common terms of endearment that are often used for this most logical stream of science. But think about it, there is no subject that cannot escape the use of Mathematics or one or more combinations of its branches: From economics to sociology, from chemistry to physics, from biochemistry to astrophysics, from climbing mountains to flying aircraft, from marketing to finance, from building roads to estimating how much traffic will be carried on the roads, from patterns on flowers and leaves to understanding evolution, from understanding the cosmos to metaphysics, from designing cars and planes to understanding the shapes of living things, from computer hardware to software, from markets to predicting rain, from preventing war to understanding human behaviour, from music to code breaking...the list can simply go on and on.

With Mathematics and its associated applications having so much significance in our everyday life, why are students in India losing interest in the subject Is it because of job opportunities or is it because of the way the subject is taught to students during their formative years. The answer lies more in the second, as some of the best mathematical brains in the world still seem to have an Indian connection. Dislike for the subject comes when there is a lack of appreciation of the subject. Look at it this way, in a mathematics examination either you solve the problem or you dont. There are no in-betweens. Get it wrong and youve not only lost points but valuable time in exploring solutions to the problem posed to you. And very often the problem comes because students, in schools, arent allowed to think for themselves, to visualise and solve problems themselves. The set of tools that they are exposed to are what they have been taught in the classrooms or picked up from some reference books suggested by the teachers. And this is where Casios initiative can dismantle the bias against the subject.

Mathematics is logic. It is a device and a tool which gives everyday events and observations a scientific meaning. And the human mind thinks logically (obviously, there are some exceptions, but for the time being these are beyond the scope of this article). If students can be made to understand logic the logic behind events, the logic of why things happen in a manner that they can appreciate and understand the mind is then exposed to a different plane, and then Mathematics can be fun. For this, the initiative needs to come from schools and, more importantly, from teachers and parents. Failing this, our own pool of talent in this field can tend to a zero which is also Indias greatest contribution to Mathematics.