‘Mallam how much is that chocomilo?’
‘One, #5.00’ he retorted, chewing his bitter cola as if the world depends on it.
He gave his son #20.00.
‘How many sweets will you get with #20.00?’
Daddy breezed up to the toll gate, handed the attendant #500.00. Swiftly the attendant dropped #350.00 into his palms and he zoomed off. He off handedly gave the change to his son.
‘I gave the attendant #500.00 and he handed me back #350.00. How much did he take?’ Daddy was already zooming out.
I am not mincing words…shooting as straight as the arrow can fly. You have the right to hate mathematics. I do hate it too. At least we have something in common. Truth be told, I never knew how the hatred started. I would rather say, I saw myself hating mathematics. I grew up with it. Thanks to philosophy at the tertiary institution, I had little or nothing to do with it; avoided it the way lepers were treated according to the Mosaic Law.
You wouldn’t believe me if I tell you that I am a teacher. Well, you may already know that. What if I tell you that I teach that same mathematics with fervor and devotion today…not in the class though? If you know the story of Saul/Paul…the conversion on his way to Damascus, you know exactly what my relationship with mathematics has been. So what happened to me?
Believe me; what happened to me can happen to your child, to your friend and whoever is under the affliction of this enfant terrible. Don’t argue with a doctor, he has the inside information one of my rector’s favorite adages. Trust me on this.
Hei! Don’t get it twisted…your son/daughter wouldn’t be hitting the ceiling overnight. I’m referring to the unique insight into mathematics. But I think something can be done about it. I think mathematics shouldn’t be left to the classroom alone. I see it as a language which should be spoken by both parents and children fluently. I see the parents as the mathematical light bearers who would ignite the spark in their children’s mind. How?
Remember your child was with you from cradle before school came around. School mustn’t be can’t do the business alone. Believe me, it takes a parent and a teacher to raise a child.
For starters, mathematics can be experiential. It can be lived; it can make up our child’s experience. Let me shock you if you wouldn’t mind…so long as you wouldn’t dial 911 faster than MTN Who Wants To Be a Millionaire fastest finger participants. Our children don’t know mathematics not because their brains are blocked or because there is an anti-mathematics blood in their vein, they just haven’t been living, breathing, and speaking mathematics.
Secondly, they are bombarded with mathematical concepts all the time but no one helps them make the connection. If we care to lend them a hand, Chike Obi and Albert Einstein may actually green with envy from their respective graves.
Now before I clear these facts up, just bear it at the back of your mind that this is my personal opinion and criticism is allowed with all pleasure.
Back to the business at hand. When was the last time your child peeled orange? When was the last time he/she accompanied you to the mall, market, bank or even sat with you in a public transport vehicle? Why wouldn’t allow your child pick up the tabs after buying those ice creams, shawarma, popcorn at the amusement park? You think they aren’t smart enough? But you just missed the opportunity to teach them fraction, cost price/selling price, simple interest, basic concepts of words problem and a lot more.
I know you will wring my head off if you hear this. Our children attitudes toward mathematics stems from the fact that we aren’t interested in it from the world go. Or we were never able to speak maths to their eager-to-grab-mind.
Should I give you my solution? You will read it up anyway. Just start talking mathematics. Allow them pay for that ice cream next time. Let them go buy that sweet or chewing gum from the Mallam’s shop and furnish you with the exact change. Perchance you are on a bus; give him/her the money to pay. Jokingly ask him/her how much the change is. Try eliciting from them the answers – I mean ask thought provoking questions that would lead them to the answers. My master Socrates of blessed memory in the company of the heavenly hosts will toast to your parental skills.
Still thinking about mathematics, you and I…