Math as a domain/subject has quite a few totally unique distinctions. The five more pertinent ones are:
- Math is THE language of (all) Gods‘God’s creation’ – nature – is totally mathematically managed/minded; the natural world is an amazing ‘multi-level system’ in cause and effect, all over its expanse.
- Math is also the only universal languageThere are thousands of mother-tongues but only one way to write things mathematically, across the world, without exception.
One can shop, pay and receive money anywhere in the world; square as a geometrical figure has the same attributes.
- Human child is born out of amazing mathematical playsHuman children cannot be an exception (i.e. cannot be weak in math), unless ‘genetically (or socially) crafted’ by humans themselves to be weak in math.
Considering girls to be weak in math is just one living example of social disability, there is no genetic basis to it.
- ‘All subjects’ are mathematically transacted at research levels It’s impossible to concieve higher-level physics, chemistry, sociology, design, architecture etc. without expressing them mathematically.
- Math has ‘aweful’ haloIt’s the only subject in which there is no individual pride/civility lost, in any community/country, in the statement ‘I hate math’.
Yet, no country or community, as a whole, has ever even imagined downplaying math.
Expectedly, math education is not short on research/experiment to improve it. Unfortunately, the secular trend in learning levels in math indicates southward slide. Happily, however, we only seem to have missed out some critical insights and we can readily put down the monstrous side of math education.
The following are the five insights not yet integrated into math education:
- Significant conceptual gaps afflict teachers; the problem is particular serious in the foundational primary school. To be clear, it’s really no fault of the math teachers themselves, it’s simply a reflection of their own poor quality math education.But we’ve wished away this aspect of teacher quality (there are more dimensions of teacher quality) because we won’t know where to start solving it.
- Almost complete disconnect of math with daily life activities/issues; math only exists in copies, math education is build on very abstract foundations and remains such through K-12 education. Naturally, there is of no use/interest to most children for math.We’ve had half-hearted attempts to address this issue, e.g., math labs in many schools. But ‘lab’ and life are not the same things – lab experiments/activities are what they are – half real; labs are best useful for measurement not experience, e.g., if we see friction in lab and not in real life, we won’t really get friction ever
- There is little ‘student-centered’ or ‘learning oriented’ educational material in math; students can’t help themselves – math is introduced in purely mathematical language and simply as a set of procedures/methods.We’ve totally ignored children’s need to have self-help educational materials in math; and math should as many ‘daily-life’ stories as other subjects and it must be ‘readable in volumes’ like other subjects. Math must also be ‘read, seen, conversed, and experienced’ and in a language that students have better command over (till class VIII at the least).
- Concept-based education system is still up in the air; it’s not even easy to define the term concept. However, math education needs concept-based teaching, learning, assessment, performance reporting, remedial, cumulative development tracking etc. far more than any other subject.Expect dramatic improvement in student leaning with truly concept-based math education. We need to comprehensively make new sets of books, assessments, activities, reporting system and remedial inputs for math.
- Math is a language and math education should offer multi-grade study flexibility to students, to reflect the reality of languages – no student is at the same level in a class; math must be taught with a curriculum that is domain-oriented (e.g., number system, algebra, geometry) and not class-oriented (with strict syllabi boundaries).We need a new syllabi for math – domain-wise books rather than class-wise books. Indeed, ‘weaker’ children are minted in schools – they are creation of ‘class-wise syllabus and assessment requirements’. Technology can deliver the necessary class-free teaching, learning and assessment in math.