A careful reading will reveal problems with the above logic. The inconsistency (or lack of consistency) of order exists in numbers from eleven to nineteen in English too. Is there a plan to change them as well? Also, if the students write numbers as they are pronounced, then twenty five with twenty (20) first followed by five (5) will be written as 205 and not 25.
Similarly, if students write sattavann (57) as 75 due to Marathi order, then the same students should write it as fifty and seven — 507. What kind of students understand, 1) randomness of English numbers from eleven to nineteen, 2) to drop the middle zero in case of a double-digit number in English, but 3) fail to understand the reversal of order in Marathi? In case of sattavann, since ‘vann’ doesn’t mean five (or any form thereof), it is not clear, how come the students know the two digits (five and seven) involved, but only get the order wrong.
A couple of paragraph later, the author quotes one of the teachers “(my) mother wasn’t educated. She too says Pannas (50) and Saha (six) instead of fifty-six so this method is easier. This can be easily understood.” So let me get this straight — to educate our children, are we keeping the grasping capacity of illiterate women from the past generation as the standard?
Some critics had expressed concern about the jodaksharas (alphabets formed by joining two alphabets like ष्ठ in त्रेसष्ठ which is Marathi for sixty-three) being lost to which the author replies that only seventy, sorry seven and zero, jodakshras (dealing with two digit numbers) have been removed. So her argument is that students can learn jodaksharas and their meaning in all other contexts, except when it comes to these specific seventy jodaksharas. Like the twenty and five example above, this logic is hard to follow.
The argument that this is not a replacement but merely an alternative method holds no water either. Path of least resistance is a natural impulse, especially for seven- and eight-year-old children. So, given a choice of learning one method or two — kids are likely to learn one and discard another. And guess which one the teachers are going to prefer?
The impulse of making education easy is not a bad one in itself. However, ease cannot replace knowledge and competence as the overriding objective of education. That is giving in to the soft bigotry of low expectations. Nothing is easier (for the children) than not sending them to school at all, and creating an economy that can absorb illiterate workers. But is that practical?
If second grade students are finding it difficult to grasp numbers, then a more practical solution would be to introduce the concept of numbers a couple of years down the line. Changing the language for making education easy is the worst form of attack on the core of the language. It also sets a dangerous precedent where every time a student finds something hard to grasp, they will simply expect the educators to get rid of that part from the syllabus.
I am no educationist, but this hardly seems like the recipe of building a nation of world-beaters. As the saying goes — if you think education is costly, try ignorance. In this saying hard replaces costly just as appropriately.
- Jamaican students to participate in OECD survey – Jamaica Observer
- Women who don’t know how to cook don’t know mathematics – MP – GhanaWeb
- UC Irvine algorithm solves Rubik’s Cube in just 1 second – University of California
- Scientists create Ramanujan Machine: what’s it for, why name it after him? – The Indian Express
- Migrant students immersed in engineering – Foothills Sun Gazette
- How bad is the gender diversity crisis in AI research? Study analysing 1.5million arxiv papers says it’s “serious” – Packt Hub
- For the perfect martini, thank fluid mechanics – The Science Show – ABC News
- A mathematics whizz – Midrand Reporter
- Shakuntala Devi: Numero Uno in Math Wizardry – Hindustan Times
- US-settled siblings keen to teach Madurai students math for free – Times of India