Teaching methods fail kids on Mathematics and Science

{Ref: DNA newspaper, print edition, dated Oct 31 2016, Mumbai; section on Education; author: Kritika Sharma; E-mail: kritika.sharma@dnaindia.net)

A lack of stamina in Indian students to learn mathematics and the applied sciences is preventing government initiatives from India into a pivot of innovation and global manufacturing. A study conducted by NCERT has found that 53 percent of students in Class 10 levels are unable to pass simple competitive exams in these subjects, both of which play a significant role in Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India initiative.

Countries like South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia, Israel, Finland, United States, and England top the list in mathematics. In Applied Science, the top spot is occupied by Singapore, followed by Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Finland, Slovenia, Russia, Hong Kong, England, United States, Hungary and Australia.

A senior official at the NCERT told DNA that the lack of interest in these subjects is a worrisome situation. “It shows that students are learning everything just by rote and reproducing them in examination papers. They are not applying logic while solving problems,” he said. A primary reason for this non-performance was that students lacked basic conceptual knowledge of the subject.

“Students could not even attempt basic formula-based questions in Science and Mathematics that we had prepared to test their competence. Our survey found that only 45 per cent of students could answer a maximum of questions correctly in Science when basic questions related to acceleration and velocity were asked,” said NCERT official Y Sreekanth, who headed the survey. “Similarly, for Mathematics, we picked up questions from Geometry and Mensuration, and the performance was equally bad,” he added. According to him, the best performance was in languages like Hindi, and other vernaculars, where no logic was required.

The survey was conducted on a sample comprising 277,416 students in 2216 schools across 33 states/Union Territories and Boards. It is a part of the National Assessment Survey, which was done for Class 10 for the first time, and a detailed report recently released thereafter.

Dr. B. S. Rawat, a mathematician, who has been part of these NCERT surveys said, “The problem with Mathematics starts at the basic level. Most of the teachers do not explain the basics of the subject to students in a proper way and once the foundation is spoiled, it is difficult to do well in the subject for the rest of the classes.”

“Also students are busy memorizing things instead of understanding their concepts. The fault is not completely theirs. Teaching methods also need to be changed. Students should get more practical exposure so that they can understand concepts. Science and Mathematics cannot  be taught without practical exposure”.

NCERT in its report has emphasized that there is a need to change the way children at class 10 level are being taught as it is important to build a foundation that may in the future help them build a career.


(my idea was to share this news/report with my students/their parents, and other readers of my blog(s))

(Thanks Ms. Kritika Sharma and DNA!)

Nalin Pithwa




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