Number System and Education System
My name is Benny Thomas. My son, Nittin Paul Thomas, has finished his Post graduation. If I remember correctly, then there was a time almost a decade and a half ago when he was in fifth standard. He had started studying types of numbers and how to plot them on a number line. I realized that he could not grasp the concept well. It was probably because the teacher had simply written the formulas on the blackboard without teaching the concept behind it.
It was not surprising because the student to teacher ratio must have been around 40:1. Above all, the focus was on finishing the course smoothly. Clearly, the idea of clarifying the concept through visual aid was not a priority.
So he was simply told that in case of a negative number added to another negative, the digits had to be added normally while the negative sign was retained. He could just not get the logic behind what he was told. So my wife had to sit down with him to demonstrate how addition and subtraction worked in the case of integers. He would usually get restless upon not finding any logic in things. This led to other issues as well. He would get stuck on a topic for days without touching anything else. This affected his concentration power in other subjects too.
Issues like these appear minor, but can have a deeper impact. Children might feel afraid about scoring bad, or not being able to answer a question. This can be quite embarrassing for them. I think that the problem lies in looking for shortcut methods. In this way students who find concepts difficult to grasp can memorize things through rote learning. Teaching tricks before teaching concepts leaves gaps in a child’s memory. Sadly, the child might not even realize this gap.
Sender’s Profile: Benny Thomas is from Kerala. His son now holds a Master’s Degree in Comparative Indian Literature from Delhi University.
The story was developed by Vikalp from an interview given by Benny Thomas.