Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Learning Mathematics a not so easy job -Whats the science dude?

Ramesh had got his result from school today .His summer vacations had just got over and the school had for some odd reasons a rule to announce their final results after the summer vacations .Ramesh had fun during his vacations and had promised his mother that he will study when the school starts.
Geeta ,Ramesh’s mother was very particular about his academics and was always in touch with his school teachers about his academic progress. She knew Ramesh was weak in mathematics and he did like the subject. He would run away whenever she tried to teach him maths.Probably the reason was that he spends most of his time reading story books or painting.Anyways she got him last year a professional math’s private tutor who would sit with him every day for one hour. She was sure there would be improvement in his scores.Ramesh disliked the teacher for obvious reasons. When Ramesh showed Geeta his marks she could not believe her eyes .His scores had only marginally improved from  50 , he had improved to 55.But surprisingly his English and Art marks had improved almost 20 percent as compared to last year.Geeta was perplexed how this had happened even after putting so much effort .

So let me try to explain how our brain works when we do maths.Mostly everyone knows that the term "dyslexia" refers to people who can't keep words and letters straight. A rarer term is "dyscalculia," which describes someone who is virtually unable to deal with numbers, much less do complicated math. Scientists now have discovered the area of the brain linked to dyscalculia, demonstrating that there is a specific part of the brain essential for counting properly.

The idea that mathematical skills reside only on the left part of the brain proved to be a myth. In reality, in most activities, the entire brain is used at all times. Mathematical thinking entails complex brain functions, interconnected to perform even the simplest of functions. For example, you may use the right parietal lobe to get close to a mathematical solution; however, to get the right answer, the left hemisphere further processes your solution

The right hemisphere matures before the left hemisphere for most cognitive skills, such as numerical understanding or appreciating quantities.
According to scientists, both types of numerical knowledge employ parts of both the parietal and prefrontal cortex in adults.

Creative mathematical ability involves discovering multiple solutions to a problem or solving real world problems. Scientists affirm that highly gifted creative mathematical thinkers employ extensively the parietal and frontal areas on both parts of the brain. Studies on Einstein’s brain proved that regions of his right parietal area were so dense with neurons that one of the major cortical indentations (IPS) was actually filled in completely and difficult to locate . The intraparietal sulcus (IPS) region is activated when a person thinks of numbers or does math. The inferior frontal gyrus known as Broca’s language area, is responsible for expressive language, such as speaking or writing.
Another area, known as Wernicke’s language area is responsible for understanding spoken or written language. Recent studies have shown that Broca’s plays a large part in understanding syntax in addition to forming it.
All of these areas appear in the dominant hemisphere (side) of the brain, which in 97% of the population is the left side.
Geometry is associated with visual-spatial representations – analysis of space, shape, points, lines, angles, surfaces, and configuration, etc, which are activated in the right cerebral hemisphere - the right parietal and frontal areas of the brain, to be more specific.
You would need the synchronization of eight separate parts of the brain for the different arithmetic operations.
For example, for identifying written digits, you activate the left and right visual cortices.
For understanding quantities – the left and right parietal cortices .
To solve word problems – the left temporal cortex and
for complex mathematical reasoning – the left and right frontal areas.

Imagine how you really pick the shortest checkout line.You could count the number of shoppers in each line, in which case you'd be thinking discretely in terms of numerosity.
But if you're a hurried shopper, you probably take a quick glance at each line and pick the one that seems the shortest. In this case you're thinking in terms of continuous quantity. The two modes of thinking are so similar but the difference lies in the way your brain executes the function. For kids who find it difficult learning math’s the first method is a better option. Rather than hurrying into answering the mathematical problem Understanding,analysing and then calculating seems to be more prudent solution .
As for Geeta she accepted the fact that her child was able to paint and read much better than arithmetic problems and she stopped pressurizing Ramesh for mathematics rather encouraged him to take his own time and solve the maths problem to the best of his abilities.