Monday, March 31, 2014
Mathematics education in India
The development in Nations and backbone of modernity is reflected through the Children’s education. To meet the challenges of the new economy it is very much required for the youth to have science and mathematics education. Many modern nations are looking forward in building a mathematical literate society and have got strong hopes in shaping up the current knowledge economy of the 21st Century. The proficiency in mathematics is usually considered to be hard to achieve. The country India with its old Mathematical history, it is believed that it would produce some kind of proficiency in mathematics field. In spite of so many society factors like problems of poverty, lack of interest towards the higher education, we are able to contribute knowledge to the body of existing knowledge. To meet the these kind of achievements it is very much required for every citizen to have knowledge in mathematics and the law called Right to Children to free and compulsory Education Act cam e into force in India as recently as April1, 2010 where it says it is must for every child to undergo elementary education for about eight years between the age group of 6-14. This Act ensures that the right to quality in Mathematics to the Children/youth of the Nation. This has to be put forth in the society strongly but unfortunately we see again Children working at the small ages because of so many other factors and one among being poverty.
For many Mathematics has become tool for the other subjects and many say that Mathematics is tool to solve the social problems, technological, industrial problems etc. But I say it is not a tool for solving the problems, it is philosophy and it has its own philosophy in every aspect and it is a language for all the sciences. Mathematics is like a diamond and diamond shines in all the angles. Mathematics is a Language where everyone should look around the diamond and make use of it from all the angles. So Mathematics is mother of all the languages in Science. Let us quickly have a look on History of Mathematics in India.
Most of the mathematics India from 5th Century CE was in form of highly compressed and confusing verses. All these verses were transmitted orally from one generation to another generation. These verses were memorised and as a transmission of knowledge it was done orally from one generation to another generation. The Indians were so good in metrical composition that even infinite series expansion of trigonometric functions have been presented in the form of verses, with sometimes have an expression with two meanings. The power series of many functions arrived in India and the route taken by the math experts around 14th Century to arrive at the solution were differed to a large extend by the route that the Europeans arrived at the same solution. Expansion Sine, Cosine functions were found earlier to English Mathematicians. More appropriate solutions were found by English Mathematical to work which were developed by many of the Indian Mathematicians. We the citizens of India Should be grateful for the most important subjects like Calculus, Arithmetic, Astronomy were developed by our Maths experts .To list few of them Madhava hailed from Sangamagrama, near Cochin lived during 1340-1425 A.D. Madhava gave a power series expansion of Sine function and few inverse trigonometric functions nearly 300 years earlier to the rediscovery of them in the west during the 17th century. Paramesvara gave changes to Aryabhata system that most Keral Mathematicians were followed. He gave contribution towards the Astronomy during 1360-1455.One should not forget the contribution of Zero to the body of knowledge without which the mathematics would not have survived at present. Mathematics in India has a very long history. Sulbasutras, the oldest extant texts (prior to 800 BCE) explicitly state and make use of the so-called Pythagorean theorem apart from giving various interesting approximations to surds, in connection with the construction of altars and fire-places of different sizes and shapes. By the time of
Aryabhata (c. 499 CE), the Indian mathematicians were fully conversant with most of the mathematics that we currently teach at the elementary level in our schools, which includes the methods for extracting square root, cube root, and so on. Among other things, Aryabhata also presented the differential equation of sine function in its finite-difference form and a method for solving linear indeterminate equation. The bavana law of Brahmagupta (c.628) and the cakravala algorithm described by Jayadeva and Bhaskaracarya (12th cent.) for solving quadratic indeterminate equation are some of the important landmarks in the evolution of algebra in India. We can see many Contributions from Indian Mathematicians much earlier to the Western Mathematicians.
Let’s move to the diversity of India and let’s see how Mathematics was taught before and after the encounter of colonial. India being rich in culture and its diversity had a very rich and widespread culture of institutional education during precolonial era. The elementary institutions of learning were known as pathshalas, the higher institutions were known as tols, akin to colleges. The pathshalas were mainly for the village people where the children were divided into classes not with respect to the age but with the capability of learning Language and Arithmetic. Mathematics at tols brings us to another set of institutions in the indigenous tradition, which was regarded as the centres for higher learning reserved exclusively for the upper caste Brahmins. These institutions taught mainly theology, metaphysics, astronomy, logic and medicine. These institutions were widely spread in different parts of the country like Bengal, Deccan and Southern regions. The entire tradition was changed after the colonial encounter in India where Christian missionary societies like Schwartz schools in Tanjore in 1770’s to engage with the pathshalas and tols through the process of making education as a means of missionary work in the colony. Mathematics was taught at the higher level for their benefits during colonial period. The notion of numeracy as defining the modern condition almost synonymous with the idea of literacy also tended to project one particular idea of what it means for a people to learn world of numbers.
Let’s move to the Indian Education system at present in general about its structure and other related aspects. India’s education system is structured by developmental stages from pre-primary to
Post-graduate level. Elementary education (primary and upper primary) is managed separately from secondary (including higher secondary) education. Undergraduate education is typically for three years, and 4-5 years for professional degrees. Universities are regulated centrally but managed within the state, with a system of affiliated colleges providing undergraduate education.
While mathematics was seen to be an essential part of any curriculum from early on, perspectives differed. The Zakir Husain committee in 1937 saw it in relation to work. The National Policy on Education in 1986 saw it as a “vehicle to train a child to think, reason, analyse and to articulate logically.” However, the shape of mathematics education has remained largely the same over the last 50 years. In response to global curricular processes in India too there has been considerable curricular acceleration in school Mathematics. An important agenda for mathematics education in India is research in mathematics education. University departments, while undertaking research in education, by their typical structure, tend to attract largely people who are neither mathematically trained nor thus inclined. Mathematics education research in India, has tried to study a variety of issues. These have included understanding construction of mathematical knowledge among students, teachers, various groups and communities and understanding how they acquire this mathematical knowledge and use it to think and organize their experiences or organize their teaching and understanding ways in which social, political, economic and how these influence the curriculum, content, teaching and learning of mathematics and thus access to mathematics for all children/ students. Many studies have also been conducted to understand the relation between mathematics (as a discipline, its epistemology, history) and mathematics education. In this context, we see specific studies having been conducted with regard to issues related to the content of mathematics at different levels of education, processes involved in learning mathematics, and how different aspects of the classroom culture/process contribute to the acquisition of mathematical knowledge. Mathematics education research has evolved over decades of research, starting from Thorndike and the many critiques of his theory which focused on meaningful and purposeful mathematics to complex research designs and multiple disciplinary frameworks in order to explore the issues impinging on teaching and learning of mathematics. Many theories have been adapted and modified from other disciplines and theories of teaching and learning have been formulated in mathematics education. However, this development has not reached or is not shared uniformly across the globe.
India at present is looking for many research areas and mainly whatever the field it is, one should not forget that basic for all the languages in sciences is Mathematics without which technology would not have taken the place across the globe.
SUMAN GANESH B. S.