The Mathematics Ghost
One more New Academic Year has begun. The schools are reopened with special coaching classes and some schools have started with the regular classes. Some parents must be on the lookout for the best Mathematics tuition teachers for their children as ‘Mathematics-Fear-Psychosis’ has deeply engraved in the minds of many Nagas. But looking around the villages, many youths are very expert in playing the highly calculative games such as Chess or Electronic games like ‘Clash of Clans’ (COC), ‘Candy Crush’, etc. The experts in these calculative games should be skilled in ‘Onko’ as well. So, where did the idea that mathematics is a tough subject creep in? In this connection let me share a few thoughts of mine on ‘Why’ the mathematics sums to be a fearful subject.It was told that in the 1970’s students considered those who take tuition as the laziest or the weakest and even who went for tuition did it quietly as it was a shameful thing. But gone are the days, now the students boast of how many subjects one is taking tuition. The society and families also seem to advocate strongly for tuitions.
From my childhood till today I hardly hear any parent telling to the children that Mathematic as an interesting subject. Instead, the ears are bombarded with the idea that Mathematics is a hard subject. A child growing up in such an idea will carry the idea that mathematics is difficult and boring. To me, over emphasizing on this subject alone by giving tuitions and ‘Home–tuitions’ from the day a child begins the class is also one of the causes of forming in the mind that Mathematics is the toughest subject. Over spoon feeding is also one of the causes of lack of confidence in the subject. It is an irony that parents are willing to pay the children’s Mathematics tuition fee of Rs. 2500 – 6000 just for an hour daily but find it difficult to pay the tuition fee Rs. 400 or 700 to the schools which nurture their children from morning till evening.
But Mathematics tuitions bring triple joy – joy for parents, students and tuition teachers. When the children are sent for tuitions, the parents need not stay with them. Besides, they can be confident that their children are sent to tuition to learn. It is also a joy for the students that the tuition teachers will complete all their ‘Home-works’. So the child has no fear of bad remarks from the subject teachers or a call for the parents from Principal’s office. The tuition teachers are happy as they are living by the extra tuitions. Sometimes I wonder where did the idea that Nagas are weak in mathematics originated from. Could it be that it came from the same subject teachers from east, west, north or south themselves, who want to fatten their pockets!
The constant bombarding of the students’ ears with the phrases saying, “Your brain is made up of cow dung”, “You are budhu”, etc, create a false belief in the minds of the students that they are incapable of solving the Mathematics equations. But ironically, many of these same teachers invite the students to go to them for personal tuition.
Looking at the scenario of the tuitions centers, most centers have as many students as a class room’s strength from different standards. Will this be a better way of coaching, I wonder! Besides, just giving assistance in writing the students’ home-works which are supposed to be done by the students themselves hardly help them to learn better. If chances are not given to the student to workout, the teachers’ complaints about the student’s lack of knowledge seem absurd. But it is easier to pass the bug on the others without improving one’s own methods of teaching. To me, the students will be interested to learn the subject if the future utility of the different formulae such as LCM, HCF, etc. are clearly shown.
I also see many students who fail in mathematics due to laziness or lack of practice justifying that mathematics is a hard subject or s/he failed due to lack of tuition. Is this not escapism or covering up one’s own sleepiness? To overcome this mathematics phobia, we just need to remember one thing; Nagas are not weak in Mathematics but miser in investing time on it.
Rev. Fr. George Rino
Cathedral Church, Kohima