Maths + Music = Fun
Aug. 31, 2019
“Teaching mathematics in a conventional way is not going to work with my students,” tI had this realization soon after my arrival here at Chandeshwari Secondary School in Simle, Lalitpur as a Teach For Nepal Fellow in the year 2018. Their academic records were a proof that the majority of the students were struggling to pass maths examinations. However, I had noticed these kids singing and dancing on the very first week of my arrival. An idea struck me: ‘how about ‘Music + Maths?’
While applying for the Fellowship, I had watched several videos where TFN Fellows’ were teaching uniquely in their classrooms. I had seen how songs helped the students learn new words through songs. Just a bit of tweak in the lyrics and formulas could sound like a song. I also had bought a book, ‘Ganit Sahitya’ (Literature in mathematics), that had a series of mathematical topics described in the form of songs, which helped me in the process.
‘Maths with music class’ was planned for the lesson, Laws were made into lyrics - tunes were set along and my students were ready to humm with the rhythm. I went to the students and started singing one line a day and an explanation on the following day.
In about a week, we had a gripping start to our maths class where we were singing mathematics formula. “Aadhar eutai vaye power jodna paine, aadhar eutai vaye ghatauna ni paine” (When expressions with the same base are multiplied, the indices are added or subtracted). Although considered difficult, my students were applying those formulas, while tuning into their favorite class song. I believe, music helped them to engage more in learning and remain focused during the lesson. And I was sure with one thing, that if a tune is stuck in student’s minds, they are going to repeat it over and over again. This strategy helped a lot. Memorization is key in both music and in math and as Pythagoras once said ‘there is a geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres.
When I began my class with a song, students seemed to come together. Students in the past, who did not step up in classroom activity also participated in rhythemic formula songs, making my class more engaging and fun. One student had once requested me to teach every single formula in a song, but that’s not always possible. 15 months later, these young kids are trying to make songs out of every other topic they considered unapproachable. I also told them to make songs if possible of definitions, formulas of other subjects like Science, math, English.
Purposely I had taken an assessment before and after the introduction of this method. I remember, one of the students scored 20 out of 20 in the assessment which was barely 7 out of 20 and 75% of students passed the assessment which was higher than three unit tests before. Realizing this musical maths as a tool for my class, today my students are considering math as an easy subject these days as it is breaking my student’s psyche ‘mathematics is tough to understand.’’
Dikesh Shrestha, who pursued a Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Communication at the Kantipur Engineering College joined Teach For Nepal as a Fellow in the hopes of promoting the hidden talents of children and guiding them to follow their passion in life. Dikesh is currently serving in Chandeshwari Secondary School in Simle, Lalitpur.
Currently, 138 young leaders from the diverse educational background are working as Fellows in 65 schools in Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, Dhanusa, Parsa, Lamjung, Tanahun and Dang.