Friday, 15 August 2008

Smell of Number Inspires Maths Learning

This is a real story about a young girl that I have come across while teaching her maths. Inspiring ...... And something new that never cross my mind till then.

Visually mathematics consists of numbers, symbols and equations. Teaching mathematics needs patience as well as learning it. However, I recently met a case that provides a twist to my mathematics teaching method.

The special case involved a young girl doing assignment on simple multiplication. Her head was real down, close to the question paper. I observed her sitting posture for some time and noticed also that her progress was not good enough. She managed to do 2 questions while her classmates, on average, has gone on to the 4th question.

Getting worried, I moved towards her. I noticed then that her nose was almost touching the numbers. A mental flash gave me the cue to ask her a question.

"What's the smell of the numbers?"

"Your nose is close to them." I said.

With a stunning look, she replied "Horrible smell!"

"Well, change the smell to something you like." This is the cutting suggestion I proposed.

I moved on to supervise the rest of the students.

After a round of checking the class and back to the same girl, I was shocked that she had completed 3 additional questions in that short period that I left her after making the "smelling" statement.

"What's now the smell of numbers?" I ventured to ask the amazing girl.

"Roses!" she replied.

Never did I expect that virtual smell of numbers can motivate the girl to do her mathematics. This event gave a renewed angle for me to approach mathematics teaching. Interesting!

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