Get the numbers right

Editorial It’s summer again, with everything it brings – the heat, the dust, the mangoes, sugarcane juice… and best of all, holidays! But it is also a time of preparation, of cleaning out the old cupboards and readying them for new ideas, new books, and possibly, a fresh approach to the new academic year. We hope Teacher Plus plays a small role in this spring cleaning of ideas, helping you re-stock your armamentarium of classroom activities and teaching tools.

This double issue of Teacher Plus looks at a subject that excites a whole range of emotions among children as well as adults, emotions like hate and confusion to extreme joy and involvement. Children either dislike math, feeling inadequate and unable to handle it, or instantly take to it despite the unimaginative ways in which it is generally presented. The link between basic mathematical concepts and life skills such as estimation, spatial analysis, sorting and grouping of elements, is rarely made, thus making math out to be even more of an enigma than it needs to be.

The articles in this issue take apart mathematics teaching and explore ways in which it can help build conceptual understanding, using tools and techniques that integrate mathematical learning to learning about life. Even before leading up to mathematical operations that can confuse and confound, teachers need to make the mathematics classroom a friendly space, where number phobias are not allowed to build up and ruin any future chances of learning the subject.

Whether a child decides to take on mathematics as a central area of study later in life, it is important that he/she learns to appreciate the essential role it plays in nearly everything we do. As Former President Dr. Abdul Kalam says, in the last word column of this issue, a teacher who can demonstrate this link can make all the difference.

And as always, we at Teacher Plus welcome your feedback and suggestions – on this issue and others we have discussed. In another month, Teacher Plus turns twenty… and as we approach the beginning of our third decade, we’d like to know from you all how far, and how much, the ideas we talk about relate to your individual classrooms!