Divide and rule

Sheela Iyer and Pallavi Mallya

The staffroom is a place where every teacher pours out her heart. It is a place where teachers discuss various things – from their love for children to issues pertaining to their careers, the problems they face in teaching certain topics, lesson plans, activities, correction of notebooks, problem children and difficulties faced by the teachers during the teaching-learning process.

During one such discussion, my colleague shared her views on how children misunderstood the concept of division. When I probed, she said that she had given her class a simple sum on division to solve. The sum was very simple: How can 721 passengers be equally accommodated in 7 buses. The surprising fact was that most of the students came up with the answer 13. How? 7 divided by 7=1 and 21 divided by 7=3 so 13 is the answer. My colleague was in a dilemma. What was she to do? As a maths teacher I told her it was simple – the concept of division was not clear. Teachers often face such problems. Mathematical processes, calculations and algorithms become more important. For further drilling and practicing, teachers tend to give more and more sums. But do they pause to think why children misunderstand concepts.

In our school to establish an understanding of a number as a concept we use sheets, strips and pieces.

Children learn representation of numbers with the help of sheets, strips and pieces. Even addition and subtraction is taught with the help of these tools.

In class 3, we start division with basic concepts of sharing, grouping, repeated subtraction and long division. We, in KDAV, follow some steps to start with and continue the same in class 4 and class 5. We start with Rajma seeds, slowly move to the sheets, strips and pieces along with the Rajma seeds and at last do the sums in the notebook (practically with the help of sheets, strips and pieces).

Sheela Iyer works as an assistant co-ordinator and Maths teacher for Primary II at KDAV, Jamnagar. She can be reached at sheeswamy@yahoo.com.

Pallavi Mallya is co-ordinator of Primary II at KDAV, Jamnagar.

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