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International Workshop on Experiential Learning in Mathematics



Sh. Sunil Bajaj

Mathematics is one subject which generally gives nightmares to some students. To eradicate Math phobia and make the subject more interesting by creating enabled and innovative teachers, School of Education, Apeejay Stya University in association with State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT), Gurgaon, Haryana organized an International workshop on Experiential Learning in Mathematics.  The Chief Guest and key resource person for the workshop was Dr. Jeyanthi Subramanian, an experienced educator practicing in Singapore under Experiential Maths Solutions (EMS). She got her Doctorate Degree in Education from the University of Hong Kong and has run workshops in various cities in India, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong for mathematics teachers and teacher trainees. Sh. Sunil Bajaj Dy. Director of SCERT Haryana and a renowned mathematician was the guest of honour in the workshop. Sh. Sunil Bajaj has himself developed many mathematics tool kits and teaching aids which are appreciated world over. He is part of NCERT Curriculum development committee for mathematics.

Problem solving skill can’t be developed just by drilling

So, what is experiential learning? To put it simply, experiential learning is learning by doing. Experiential learning activities for Math are an effective way to help students overcome their Math anxiety, find out real-life applications of the subject and make learning fun. Dr. Jeyanthi quoted American educational reformer John Dewey to drive her point home. “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.”

Problem solving skills can’t be developed just by drilling, explained Dr. Jeyanthi. Researchers claim that Mathematics can be learnt better through exploration, during which the learners can get more opportunities to observe, examine, think, analyse and discuss.  Dr. Jeyanthi gave numerous examples of learning mathematics via experiential learning. One of them was the ‘Handshake problem’. “Yesterday, I had a party in my house. There were 20 guests. If each of us shook hands with the rest, find the total number of handshakes.”

Dr. Jeyanthi Subramanian

Dr. Jeyanthi asked students to follow mathematician George Polya’s four-step process for problem solving:  Understand the problem,  devise a plan (translate), carry out the plan (solve) and look back (check and interpret).

While concluding the presentation, Dr. Jeyanthi elucidated how teachers can act as facilitators in experiential learning. She asked teachers to provide just enough information to establish background and create interest among students, guide students by asking insightful questions, encourage students to discuss among themselves, give students time and space and intervene only when it is appropriate; otherwise step back and let the pupils make their own way.

Sh. Sunil Bajaj, Deputy Director, SCERT Haryana while giving his talk, said that applying mathematics has become an integral part of our lives. Mathematics is not memorizing formulae and doing computation. Teaching Mathematics is nothing but teaching thinking. We need to prepare students for challenges of the new era and embrace changes.

We have to make maths interesting by changing mundane questions to High order thinking (HOT) and asking open-ended questions. We should use real- life examples to arouse the interest of students. 

Dr. Jeyanthi Subramanian, Educator, Doctorate Degree in Education from the University of Hong Kong

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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