Teachers must help demystify mathematics

Over the years, the dreams and desires of many students to become great scientists, medical doctors and other science-related professionals have been dashed because of their fear for mathematics.

Surely, the once and still dreaded subject has been the barrier between many students and their preferred career choices.

However, the truth is that, our everyday life is about calculations, measurements and drawing of conclusions.

For instance, the food we eat is about ensuring the right measurements and quantities. Engineers rely heavily on mathematics.

Doctors cannot do without mathematics and footballers also apply mathematics in their tactical formations.

Interestingly, in their attempt to run away from mathematics, many potential science students dodge their preferred programmes to offer general arts only to realise that they are confronted with some advanced mathematics at the tertiary level.

It is an undeniable fact that the issue of students not liking mathematics can be attributed largely to the way the subject is taught and the attitude of some mathematics teachers.

The Daily Graphic holds the view that since the subject is embedded in almost all professional training, mathematics teachers need to innovate to demystify the subject and to get their students to yearn for the subject starting from the basic level.

Teachers should adopt more innovative ways of teaching to let the students embrace and appreciate mathematics.

We are aware of great mathematics teachers and mathematicians, including the late Professor Francis Allotey and Professor Enyonam Anku, who were trailblazers in the subject.

Indeed, Prof. Sitsofe Enyonam Anku became the first Ghanaian to be nominated among the top 50 teachers in the world for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018.

Prof. Anku was selected among the top 50 teachers in the world because of his role in influencing students into liking the subject through the teaching of mathematics at his mathematics centre, Meagasa Mathematics Academy in Accra.

The first Ghanaian to reach the last 10 top teachers in the Global Teacher Award, Evans Odei, is a mathematics teacher at Achimota Senior High School in Accra.

Mr Odei combines practicals with theory.

Taking his students to the field to do measurements, among others, are ways he gets them involved and interested in the subject.

He successfully adopted innovative technology such as the use of animation and objects, as well as PowerPoint presentations, to teach mathematics.

The Daily Graphic believes that one of the ways to reduce the phobia of mathematics in many students is for teachers of the subject to adopt an activity-based approach to teaching mathematics.

Surely, Mr Odei deserves commendation, as he freely uploaded self-recorded videos for those interested in learning online for free.

The likes of Evans are needed at the very basic level of education to bring out the interest of the children in the subject.

Even though a lot is being done to encourage the learning of the subject, a lot more needs to be done.

Teachers of the subject must be well resourced to enable them to procure some basic teaching and learning materials so that they can engage the schoolchildren with an activity-based approach.

Last week, the Director of the Christside International School in Accra, Emmanuel Lamptey, called for the pragmatic teaching of the subject to demystify its learning and inculcate in schoolchildren the love of the subject to enable them to contribute more meaningfully to national development.

He therefore called on parents, teachers and educational authorities to continue to find ways to eliminate the misconception that the subject is difficult and rather support them with the necessary skills to master it to unearth their full potential.

Indeed, the call by the director is apt because the phobia of the subject is a mere perception and the teachers must help change it.

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