Tools to tackle maths phobia

When the word maths evokes fear, maybe it's time to seek help of teachers, counsellors, psychologists and parents.

Regular use of educational CDs dealing with simple methods to solve tough maths problems and stress on new concepts through acting, visual aids and activities relevant to everyday lives also helps. "Since children enjoy experimenting, they should be engaged in exploring and thinking," said Nimish Kapoor, a scientist of Vigyan Prasar, a unit of Union ministry of science and technology, during a daylong symposium on mathematics and science communication for mediapersons on Tuesday.

"Since maths phobia is a perennial problem, we should try to design models for students. If students are unable to understand, it's the responsibility of teachers, parents and counsellors to come forward to chalk out the easiest remedies to fight the phobia," Kapoor added.

The symposium was organised by Vigyan Prasar and National Council for Science and Technology Communication, department of science and technology in collaboration with Manthan Yuva Sansthan, an NGO. The aim was to inculcate scientific temper among students as part of national year of mathematics 2012.

According to Kapoor, due to anxiety about how they would fare in maths, even good students perform badly and it the overall responsibility of teachers to encourage children to share their thinking process and justify their answers.

Besides, teachers should emphasise the fact that everyone makes mistakes in mathematics, so that students do not feel insecure.

The chief guest on the occasion was director of state science and technology department Dr Arun Kumar.

"Very soon we are planning to introduce scholarship schemes for promotion of science subjects," Kumar announced.

He added that plans were afoot to open science centres in 10 districts of Jharkhand. "Our aim is to reach out to maximum number of people through these centres, so that they can relate to scientific inventions and mathematics," he said.

During the deliberation, it came to the fore that children's mathematical abilities differed from country to country. In Canada, students score substantially lower in maths than students in Korea and Singapore. Moreover, research had shown parents in Taiwan and Japan place more stress on making efforts to solve mathematical problems than on displaying intellectual ability in schools.