Developing children’s abilities for mathematisation is the main goal of mathematics education. The narrow aim of school mathematics is to develop ‘useful’ capabilities, particularly those relating to numeracy – numbers, number operations, measurements, decimals and percentages. The higher aim is to develop the child’s resources to think and reason mathematically, to pursue assumptions to their logical conclusion and to handle abstraction. It includes a way of doing things, and the ability and the attitude to formulate and solve problems.
Vision for School Mathematics
- Children learn to enjoy mathematics rather than fear it.
- Children learn important mathematics: Mathematics is more than formulas and mechanical procedures.
- Children see mathematics as something to talk about, to communicate through, to discuss among themselves, to work together on.
- Children pose and solve meaningful problems.
- Children use abstractions to perceive relation-ships, to see structures, to reason out things, to argue the truth or falsity of statements.
- Children understand the basic structure of Mathematics: Arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, the basic content areas of school Mathematics, all offer a methodology for abstraction, structuration and generalisation.
- Teachers engage every child in class with the conviction that everyone can learn mathematics.
Visualisation and representation are skills that Mathematics can help to develop. Modelling situations using quantities, shapes and forms are the best use of mathematics.
There is also a need to make connections between Mathematics and other subjects of study. When children learn to draw graphs, they should also be encouraged to think of functional relationships in the sciences, including geology. Our children need to appreciate the fact that Mathematics is an effective instrument in the study of science.
At the secondary and higher secondary levels also, the mathematics syllabuses which at present are divided in the traditional manner into arithmetic, geometry and algebra, trigonometry, statistics, calculus and coordinate geometry, need to be revitalized and brought up-to-date. The entire arithmetic course and also the basic operations in algebra can be completed by the end of the primary stage. There is considerable room for eliminating out-dated material from the syllabus such as simplification, factorization, the finding of HCF, LCM, etc. Trigonometry should be related to algebra and may not be treated as a separate subject. Much of the work on identities, solution of triangles, heights and distances could be considerably cut down. The emphasis on memorizing of theorems and exercises in geometry should be given up. The approach to the teaching of geometry should be changed and an axiomatic and systematic treatment adopted.
With the recent introduction of computers in schools, educational computing and the emergence of learning through the understanding of cause-effect relationships and the interplay of variables, the teaching of mathematics will be suitably redesigned to bring it in line with modern technological devices.