A conference on the topic, ‘Learning Difficulties and Misconceptions in Early Years Mathematics’ was organised by the Mathematics Research Department of Bluebells School International on 21 November 2019. The conference was attended by the teachers of the Primary wing at prominent schools of Delhi. The resource person was Mr. Sanjay Raghav, Mathematics Consultant at Bluebells School International and founder of Arc Math. Ms. Anjum Tandon of The Foundation School attended the conference.
The objective of the conference was to reach a more refined understanding of mathematical concepts involved in early and primary years and to understand the misconceptions and challenges that children face while learning the subject. The conclave also sought to train the teachers to deal with such misconceptions.
At the onset, the resource person asked each participant to express his/ her views on the understanding of the word ‘Mathematics’. He summed up the responses and explained that Mathematics means not just computation or calculation, but encompasses visualisation, estimation, reasoning, problem solving, approximation and representation. He said that teachers as well as parents tend to give more importance to computation, which makes up for only 14 per cent of what constitutes Mathematics! The remaining 86 per cent stands neglected in most of the cases.
Mr Raghav talked about the pre requisites for the understanding of mathematical concepts and principles. He discussed the principles of learning and counting numbers. He emphasised the linguistic aspect of teaching Math and the importance of framing questions in the most appropriate language. He stated that every concept should be taught with the maximum number of examples and with as many variations as possible. He dwelled on the importance of visualisation while teaching Mathematics.
A few examples of common misconceptions while learning Mathematics at early stages were also discussed. Some of the examples dealt with wrong notions of addition and subtraction of numbers and misconceptions associated with Place Value.
The teachers left the conclave feeling enriched and better equipped to teach the subject in ways that were more easily understood by their students.