The maiden edition of Cowbellpedia Academy, which kicked off in Lagos on last Wednesday, literarily transformed into a laboratory of ideas as experts and Mathematics teachers dissected various ways to sustain interest in the subject among teachers and students.
The Cowbellpedia Academy, an initiative of Cowbell Milk the flagship product from Promasidor Nigeria Limited, as part of the 20th anniversary of Cowbell and Mathematics in Nigeria, was conceived to drive support and interest in Mathematics. It attracted outstanding Nigerian students and their teachers.
After the Lagos debut, the train of the Cowbellpedia Academy moves to Port Harcourt and Abuja
The Academy, which will be held for three days in each of the selected centres across the country, is tailored to expose 500 students and 50 teachers per location to various teaching and learning techniques in achieving, sustaining and managing academic feats especially in Mathematics.
Topics to be examined by the facilitators will include Exploratory Mathematics, Foundation of Problem Solving, Engineering, Computer Programming and Design. Others are: Art of Problem Solving, Geometry, Number Theory, Design Thinking, Recreational Mathematics and Problem Solving.
One of the facilitators, in the Lagos center, Bernardo Raceman Santos, a Mathematics lecturer from the Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia, affirmed that the major problem of Mathematics education is bad teaching.
He explained that the best approach to teach the subject is to let the learner or student see its beauty. “Students run from Mathematics because they are asked to memorise formulas, follow procedures and instructions. But Mathematics is more about discovery, asking questions, contemplating and curiosity,” he said in an interview at the venue.
He added that the best way to retain the best brain to teach Mathematics is to catch them young as Cowbell is doing, and that society must continue to emphasise the need for Mathematics and Mathematicians.
Another facilitator, Karam Aloui, who teaches Mathematics at the University of Spax, Tunisia, insisted that “Mathematics calls everything in our life and it is very interesting.” He advised teachers to look at the subject as a recreation, instead of seeing it as a task. “Teachers should imbibe the approach of letting students think as freely as possible, instead of hammering strictly on curriculum and school’s doctrine,” Aloui said.
Samson Adewale, one of the teachers at the Academy, praised Cowbell Milk the flagship product from Promasidor Nigeria Limited for the unique opportunity and promised to take the learnings back to his school.
Adewale, who teaches at Future Heritage High School, Ota, Ogun State, advised his colleagues to allow the students to discover themselves in a way that they would remember what they had learnt.
Experts had identified shortage of qualified Mathematics teachers, poor facilities, inadequate equipment and instructional materials as factors that impede students’ interest in Mathematics in Nigeria.
Indeed, the Mathematical Association of Nigeria (MAN) explained that the causes of the poor performance in the subject were student-related, teacher-related and government-related. It observed that quite a number of Mathematics teachers, especially at the secondary school level, were weak in knowledge content and pedagogy.