BOOK REVIEW: Making Mathematics fun again

Title: Mathematics Inside Out 1
Publishers: Learnrite International Publishers Limited
Pages: 180
Reviewer: Wilfred Okiche
For the school aged pupil, the fear of Mathematics is often times the beginning of wisdom. But it isn’t only the kids who are affected. A recent study published in the Psychological Science journal concludes that parents’ frustrations while dealing with calculations or solving mathematical problems are directly linked to the children’s maths anxiety. This is, of course, separate from the various studies that implicate Mathematics teacher’s own misgivings about teaching the subject with the student’s ability to enjoy and assimilate.
Those fears may soon be a thing of the past with the publication of the Inside Out series of books for primary school pupils. Written by Judeson A. Ogberaha, a seasoned educator boasting years of rich on the ground experience, and published by Learnrite Publishers, the Inside Out Mathematics series have the advantage of bypassing the unnecessary jargons that make maths so tedious, thereby making the learning experience as stress free as possible for pupils, teachers and parents.
Book 1 serves as the introduction into the series. With its attractive cover and clear colour separation, kids are instantly drawn to what is in-between the pages. What lies within is a standard text based on the federal government’s Universal Basic Education (UBE) scheme for instructing, measuring and evaluating pupils’ response to the subject.
The table of contents is neatly aligned, with the subjects beginning from the least to the most demanding. At 19 chapters and 180 pages long, Inside Out packs a solid punch, combining the textbook and workbook formats into one compact whole.
The building blocks of Mathematics are the numbers, so it is no surprise that the very first chapters of Book 1 pick up from where the pupils must have left off in pre-school. The user is painstakingly guided – in brightly coloured tables and charts no less – on how to count slowly upwards from 1 to 100, and back downwards. The succeeding chapters deal with counting and identifying more complex numbers (above 100), counting in twos, as well as in odd and even numbers.
At the end of these counting exercises, there are interactive exercises that involve full participation of the teacher and their classroom, as well as revision exercises to aid recall and confirm understanding. For example, in chapter 9 that deals with Fractions, there are exercises that encourage pupils to divide various relatable shapes into halves and quarters. There are also exercises that make use of colours to identify various fractions.
The lessons then progress to writing numbers in digits and in words, differentiating between both, and discovering the place value of whole numbers. More complex fare is introduced with topics like fractions and money, and before long, pupils are excitedly familiarising themselves on how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers. The final chapters of Book 1 deal with such concepts as measurement of length, height, weight, time and capacity. A brief chapter on practical geometry introduces readers to the nature of shapes – both 2 and 3 dimensional.
However, the cover page of the title has too much going on, and the sheer volume of text on the cover page alone may discourage attention deficit kids. The images could be brought into sharper focus and the overall finish could be more professional. But these are all issues that can be addressed smoothly with a successful reprint edition.
Also, there are numerous texts presently fighting for market space, but from the experience of this writer, who spent years as a reluctant student of Mathematics, the Inside Out series easily stand out with its simple, teach and test design approach, logical presentation of topics and up to the minute advances in contemporary Mathematics trends. Governments interested in improving the study of Mathematics would do well to adopt the series as required reading in schools.
A teacher’s text and a pupil’s friend, your ward will have no finer introduction to the exciting world of Mathematics.
Be sure to take the plunge.

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