That teachers do not teach well these days is an oft heard complaint. In 2012, a professor of Mathematics from the School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Hyderabad, decided to do something about it. He began an outlandish training programme for Math professors – which completely knocked down traditional methods of teaching. Till date, almost 500 teachers have been trained under this programme and thousands of students have come out of Math class smiling.
Pedagogical Training for Mathematics Teachers (PTMT) was started after requests by several student participants of another distinctive mathematics training programme, Mathematics Training and Talent Search (MT&TS). PTMT is fully-funded by the National Board of Higher Mathematics (NBHM), Govt. of India.
Prof Kumaresan, Director and the man behind PTMT, says, “One can’t blame a student if he doesn’t score well in college, it may be that the concept he was tested on was not addressed in a proper manner in class. The MT&TS students sent me requests to train their professors in the same methodology.” He came up with this programme where teachers are being taught to introduce a subject artistically. At PTMT, teachers are being taught how to introduce new concepts and different theories to students in the field of mathematics.
Prof Kumaresan also adds, “To develop a student’s interest in maths can be challenging for teachers. And by training 40-50 teachers at PTMT; we indirectly train 400-500 students.” Though the major concern of PTMT is to nurture and spot out mathematical talent in the young, it also motivates a teacher to increase their level of coaching. Every teacher follows a different approach; a method that may work for one group might fail for another group.
Prof Ajit Kumar from the Mathematics Dept. at the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT), Mumbai, says, “Mathematics is presumed to be a tricky subject and sometimes students give up even without trying.” PTMT alumnus Prof J. Akila Padmasree, of Vellalar Arts & Science College, Tamil Nadu, says, “PTMT helped me understand that students are capable of learning. It is the teachers who should take more care to teach them simple things in interesting ways.”
PTMT orients more on the teaching aspect rather than the curriculum aspect. Each such camp is of six days, concentrating on a single topic such as Real Analysis, Linear Algebra and Several Variable Calculus etc. Unlike regular camps, the participants are not taken as students – whatever is explained is from a teacher’s perspective.
Prof. Monica M V from the Field Marshal KM Carriappa College, Karnataka is participating at the PTMT programme being held at ICT Mumbai from 2nd to 7th November 2015. She says, “Implementation of the present methodology is difficult. I joined this camp so that I can encourage my students to learn and know more about mathematics.”
The most exciting part of mathematics is the process of invention and discovery. In simpler terms, to identify different ways of approaching a problem, and to know which approach will solve it. “We appreciate this programme more as compared to Refresher or Orientation Programmes conducted by the UGC. PTMT helped me in becoming a better teacher. This programme actually helps. The PTMT Programme on Linear Algebra at ICT is my second programme,” says Prof Ashish Chakravarty of Bhandup Educational Society, Mumbai.
Teachers vouch that the programme has helped them in organising more productive sessions with students. And they noticed a better class participation. However, PaGaLGuY is yet to gauge effective this programme has been for students.