Dr. Shailesh Shirali is setting up a Community Math Center at Rishi Valley School, its intention being to serve as a Resource Center for mathematics teachers across the country.
There is an urgent need to set up resource centers of this kind, not just in mathematics but in the sciences as well. We observe country wide a drift away from the basic sciences and toward lucrative non-science career choices. If this trend continues unchecked, there will soon be a crisis at the national level in terms of human resources, for expertise will become unavailable in areas where it is most needed, including that of care of the environment. Such a crisis would be very difficult to get around.
In part the movement away from the basic sciences derives from the poor exposure that students get to such subjects while in school. Poor teacher preparation remains a key factor in this chain of cause and effect. In turn this derives from lack of institutional support and resources, and poor networking of teachers. This problem is well known, but the response to it at the national and state levels has been minimal.
Therefore there is an urgent need to set up effective resource centers that will address these lacunae, and reach out to the teacher body at large. They must be so structured as to make use of developing technologies, and help in generating materials for widespread usage in the country.
The Community Math Center being set up here will be engaged in such work. Its purpose will be to serve as a resource center for teachers, to produce materials that can be used across the country, and to create teacher networks that will enhance peer learning through the culture of problem solving, problem posing, and sharing of materials.
Plans for the coming months
The following list gives some of the events that we will be involved in over the next few months:
- Workshop for students of grades 8, 9 in Bangalore (8-10 August, 2008, IISc, Bangalore)
- Conference in DPS (RK Puram, New Delhi) for Mathematics Teachers to highlight the use of technology in Mathematics education (28-31 August, 2008)
- Workshop for Mathematics teachers of grades 10, 11, 12 in Bangalore (12-14 September, 2008, IISc, Bangalore)
- Workshop for Mathematics teachers in Tirupati, most likely in September
- Participation in NCERT Teleconferencing Project, for live video and internet based contact with teachers across the country (July, 2008 to January, 2009)
- Workshop for Mathematics teachers from Hyderabad, Bangalore, and other regions, to be held in Rishi Valley in late November, 2008
- Episteme 2009: Conference to be held in the HBCSE, Mumbai, featuring science, technology and math education (5-9 January, 2009).
A website (www.mathcelebration.com) is under preparation, and should appear soon. It will feature articles, problems, solutions, questions from readers, answers, responses from other readers, and so on.