Scrutinising their test papers with intense concentration, 26 students from Singapore get ready to crack the complex set of problems in the exam hall. There is a twist in the plot — with just one day training in an ancient system of mathematics, the enthusiastic youngsters are all set to try out their ability to do mental arithmetic — in an Indian classroom.
As part of a six-day educational trip to the city, the students from Mayflower Secondary School, Singapore got an opportunity to learn Vedic Maths at the Sethu Bhaskara Matriculation School, Ambattur. The team set foot in Chennai on October 17 with a mission to delve into the intricate features of the Vedic system.
A N Usha, Maths teacher, Sethu Bhaskara Matriculation School says, “I taught them the basic concepts of Vedic maths like using the Beejank method and Nikalam method.” “They were interested in learning the techniques since it reduces the time taken to solve problems,” adds D J Prema, another teacher.
For the teachers from the Maths Department of Mayflower School, the Indian school environment, the teaching methodology, as well as the teacher-student interaction in classrooms was a unique experience.
Vijayaletchumi, maths teacher, says, “We wanted the students to experience the Indian education system since there is a lot of difference in the way maths is taught here.” “I think India is interesting in terms of culture and education system. The students here are excited to give out the answers and they are not afraid to make mistakes and learn in the process’” points out Liu Xuesang, teacher, Maths and Design technology department. “I noticed that the students here are more self-motivated and we are trying to learn how we can inculcate such values,” she adds. Liu explained the project based assessment work, namely IDP (Interdisciplinary Project) undertaken by school students in Singapore.
“IDP is about learning outside the curriculum where students can research and link different subjects and design projects,” she says.
Citing an example of an IDP based on linking design concepts with home economics, she says, “For instance, if students are given a topic to design a theme based Japanese restaurant, they will have to plan the design for the restaurant, the colours and the recipes that they plan to use. This way they get a real world experience.” N Narayana, maths teacher and Computer Applications department, Mayflower Secondary school, believes that the students could use their experience to inspire their peers.
“We want our school students to promote the Vedic maths,” says Narayanan.
The trip was not just about sharing teaching methodologies, but also about giving back to society. As part of the Community Involvement Programme of the school, the students will also be visiting St Aelen, an orphanage in Egmore to spend time with underprivileged children, he adds. “We sold bandung (rose milk) to our classmates to collect funds for the needy children,” explains Yap Hui Yi, a Class 9 student. The students got an opportunity to celebrate Deepawali at the Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women. The youngsters will be visiting Dakshina Chitra to learn about traditional folk arts before flying back to Singapore on Friday. Asked about the take -home lesson from India, Quah Kai Li, a Class 9 student, says, “I’ve learnt not to take anything for granted. And I will always cherish memories of this trip.”