Proficiency in algebra is now considered all important as it forms the basis of higher maths. This being the case, it is important to introduce the subject right from the start – all the way from the primary level.
Middle school maths is generally divided into three sections – arithmetic, algebra and geometry. While the student is familiar with arithmetic and geometry from primary classes, algebra is introduced only from classes 6 and 7. Strangely, or may be not so strangely this seems to be the level where we find a drastic change in grades and children’s attitude towards maths. Further, topics in algebra build up in such quick succession and are sometimes so unconnected that it throws the student into complete confusion. This invariably adds up to fear of the subject itself. The immediate fallout is a desperate search for private tuitions, which often do not seem to help remedy the situation.
Most middle school maths text books will have the chapter ‘Linear Equations’ generally listed immediately after the chapter dealing with the four basic operations in polynomials. We begin working with the solution of simple equations, and here is what we generally encounter:
Exercise 1: x + 3 = 4
x = 4 – 3
Rule: Move 3 to the right side, and change the sign.
Exercise 2: 3x = 18
x = 18/3
Rule: Move 3 to the right side, and divide.
The author can be reached at [email protected].