The story of mathematical pedagogy has undergone significant alterations and rewriting in almost every century. The first known systematic teaching of mathematics started in the Third Millennium in states of Mesopotamia, where scribal schools – edubba, the houses of tablets – prepared the scribes who had to work for the state administration and were required to master writing and accounting techniques.  Similar processes were observed in ancient Egypt. During this period, it would appear, the goal of teaching was professional training.

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Mathematics became a subject of general education for the first time in the city-states of Greece when a new class of free citizens governing their state emerged. This form of general education practiced two distinct patterns:

  1. Rhetoric and dialectic as qualifications for political activity
  2. Mathematics as a certain complement.
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The Importance of Teaching the History of Mathematics

The history of mathematics is often used in the teaching and learning of the subject because if mathematical theories are seen only through their final formulation, without historical interpretations, students can gain a wrong impression about mathematics. Mathematics, in such a scenario, will be seen as an artificial creation, serving mental imagination, but without any connection to practical work or real-life contexts.

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The history of maths pedagogy is almost as old as the history of human civilizations. | Image source: educationgyan

Learn about the history and evolution of the discipline of Mathematics.

The flawed understanding of mathematics can be overcome when students, through historical facts, understand that mathematics from its foundation up to now has played one of the most significant roles in all areas of human life. Students can gain an insight into mathematical concepts in a deeper and more interesting way and from many examples from the past can understand that mathematics is not an isolated discipline. Specifically, a study of the history of mathematics:

  1. Provides a wide perspective of the development of mathematics itself, development of its concepts and problems, connection to the praxis, tendencies for generalization, and proving scientific assumptions.
  2. Is a part of general history that tells us how the human race was made to develop mathematics and to use its results.
  3. Is one of the prerequisites for the further development of contemporary mathematics.
  4. Is the basis of scientific methodology and one of the most significant sources of the analysis of cognitive processes.
  5. Contributes to improving mathematics teaching.
  6. Is an integral part of general human culture.

Mathematics Education as a Field of Inquiry

Prior to 1960, there was little research on how children learn mathematics and how teachers teach mathematics. The teacher's job was seen primarily as a matter of telling students the mathematics they were expected to learn. But as research in mathematics education matured, questions arose about how students understand mathematics.

Here is all you need to know about the evolution of the perceptions towards and pedagogy of Mathematics.

Evolution of Maths Teaching in India

Who was the first mathematician of India? Who invented calculus? Who discovered the concept of zero? Many such questions can be found in the ancient annals of India. Very little is known of the context in which much of ancient India’s mathematical knowledge developed because of the lack of historical sources on elementary, higher, or specialized education in ancient and medieval India.

Ancient and medieval mathematicians in the Indian subcontinent laid down their knowledge in Sanskrit texts. There are limited sources available in vernacular languages which could provide information on the contents and means of mathematical knowledge transmission in wider circles. Archeology has, until now, given us little information on how mathematics was taught in ancient India.

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The Classical Era of Indian Mathematics (500 to 1200 CE)

The most famous names of Indian mathematicians belong to the classical era, including mathematicians like Aryabhatta I (500 CE) Brahmagupta (700 CE), Bhaskara I (900 CE), Mahavira (900 CE), Aryabhatta II (1000 CE), and Bhaskarachrya or Bhaskara II (1200 CE).

During this period, two centers of mathematical research emerged, one at Kusumapura near Pataliputra and the other at Ujjain. Aryabhatta I was the dominant figure at Kusumapura and may even have been the founder of the local school. His fundamental work, the Aryabhatiya, set the agenda for research in mathematics and astronomy in India for many centuries.

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Learning maths enhances brain activity. | Image source: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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One of Aryabhatta’s discoveries was a method for solving linear equations of the form
ax + by = c. Here a, b, and c are whole numbers, and we seeking values of x and y in whole numbers satisfying the above equation.

The other major center of mathematical learning during this period was Ujjain, which was home to Varahamihira, Brahmagupta, and Bhaskaracharya. The text Brahmasphutasiddhanta by Brahmagupta, published in 628 CE, dealt with arithmetic involving zero and negative numbers.

As with Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta was an astronomer, and much of his work was motivated by problems that arose in astronomy. He gave the famous formula for a solution to the quadratic equation.

Mathematics in Modern India

In more recent times, there have been many important discoveries made by Indian mathematicians, such as Srinivasa Ramanujan, Harish-Chandra, and Manjul Bhargava.

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Ramanujan (1887- 1920) is perhaps the most famous modern Indian mathematician. Ramanujan's most lasting discovery may be the arithmetic theory of modular forms.

In an important paper published in 1916, he initiated the study of the Pie function. The values of this function are the Fourier coefficients of the unique normalized cusp form of weight 12 for the modular group SL2 (Z).

Ramanujan proved some properties of the function and conjectured many more. As a result of his work, the modern arithmetic theory of modular forms, which occupies a central place in number theory and algebraic geometry, was developed by Hecke.

The Evolution of Mathematics Teacher Education

As already mentioned, before the 1960s, most teacher education programs for secondary school mathematics teachers consisted of training in mathematics, a methods course of some kind, and student teaching. Smaller programs at colleges or universities tended to have generic methods courses that addressed the needs of secondary teachers of all subjects.

During the 1960s and 1970s, there was a paradigm shift when educators began to see the value in studying the teaching and learning of mathematics more specifically. Thus arose an interest in developing a psychological basis for understanding why some students learned but others did not, and what kind of teaching methods and curricula could affect student learning. This growing knowledge base contributed to mathematics teacher education as well.

Goals of Mathematics Education

In India, the main goal of mathematics education in schools is the mathematization of the child’s thinking. Maths teachers, be it private maths tutors online or maths instructors in schools and colleges, emphasize clarity of thought and pursuing assumptions to logical conclusions as central to the mathematical enterprise.

There are many ways of thinking, and the kind of thinking one learns in mathematics is an ability to handle abstractions and an approach to problem-solving. On top of that, there are several other benefits of mathematics education.

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Mathematics has real, everyday applications. | Image source: Unsplash

Connecting Theory and Practice

Once a student of maths develops the necessary mathematical thinking and creative reasoning skills, they will correlate theory with things and situations that they encounter around them regularly.

Learn how to avoid these popular misconceptions in mathematics.

Improved Problem-solving Skills

Mathematical thinking improves the problem-solving abilities of students and helps them to evolve into logical thinkers rather than emotional thinkers. Analytical thinking based on maths fuels constant improvement, communication, and learning. It enables students to exert control over their environment through better decisions.

Applications in Almost Every Career

Knowledge of mathematics, and its complexities, can help in almost every career. A career centered on mathematics provides many opportunities. Some careers and jobs that benefit from a degree in mathematics include engineers, computer programmers, statisticians, actuaries, mathematics teachers, and even business managers.

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Better Understanding of the World

Studying mathematics facilitates a better understanding of the world. Knowing the nuances behind how mathematics works can open your eyes and help you see the world around you in a new way.

Consider Einstein’s theory of relativity. It is instrumental in furthering our understanding of the universe. So, what are you waiting for? Begin your search for Maths classes near me today and experience the fascinating world of mathematics!

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Shreyanjana

Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.