Mathematics, regarded as the bedrock of science, spreads phobia in the minds of several students that has resulted in the below average performance in the subject at the Senior School Certificate examination conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the National Examinations Council (NECO).
The mental ‘warfare’ over the 2016 Cowbellpedia Secondary School Mathematics TV Quiz Show 2016 which started with a qualifying written examination in March 2016 ended recently with Juliet Ekoko and Ayooluwa Oguntade, both of The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State winning the star prize in the Junior and Senior categories respectively.
Oguntade who ascribed his success to his teachers and theCowbell class that was organised by his school before the competition, however advised his colleagues who have phobia for mathematics to confront their fears for the subject. ‘Mathematics phobia is about attitude, the solution is to face and resist your fear and it shall flee from you,” he said.
Ekoko who aspires to be a medical doctor, also noted that the Mathematics phobia exists in the mind and only a positive mental attitude can defeat it. “It is an unreal fear, and the moment you don’t give in to its intimidation, you have conquered it. It is like a toothless roaring lion, which looks dangerous, but in the final analysis, harmless,” she said.
Oluwatunmise Idowu, a finalist in the junior category, hinted that only a constant practice of the subject can erase the fear. “A proverb says familiarity brings contempt. It is like that for Mathematics; the more you get yourself familiar through constant practice, the more you rise above the fear. I spent an average of four hours on Mathematics daily, and it has worked for me,” Idowu who set a new competition record by answering 17 questions in 60 seconds, said.
Idowu’s sentiment was reiterated by Adegoke Aromolaran, a finalist in the Senior category, who disclosed that the subject has become a sort of analgesic for him, through constant practice. Aromolaran, an Ijesa Prince added that he practices Mathematics for five hours daily.
Aside the students, the teachers also revealed their methods and tactics of handling the phobia.Kola Bello, a Mathematics teacher with The Ambassadors College, Ota, Ogun State, who is also the teacher of Oguntade, explained that since a lot of students see mathematics as difficult subject, he advises them to attack the subject, because, like in football, attack is the best form of defense.
He added that Mathematics is about mentality and that both the teachers and the students must be in a proper frame of mind to excel.
“I not only teach, but I inspire my students. I behave like Coach Jose Mourinho, formerly of Chelsea FC, but now with Manchester United FC of England. Mathematics is about mentality; once you believe it is difficult, it will become difficult. That is why I tune the mind of my students and advise them to have a winning mentality.
Wasiu Oladimeji, a Mathematics teacher at Ota Total Academy has likened solving of Mathematics problems to the simple mechanism of driving a car. He added that Mathematics equation is about rules and methods that apply in any part of the world.
Also, Essien Bassey, a Mathematics teacher at Pegasus High School, Eket, Akwa Ibom State disclosed that her method of “preaching Mathematics like a church sermon” has helped greatly in sustaining the interest of her students in the subject.
Bassey explained that Mathematics is a subject that requires a lot of emotions on the part of the teacher, and on the part of the students.
Ambassadors College Proprietor, Mr. Samson Yomi Osewa, credited the Cowbellpedia Secondary Schools Mathematics TV Quiz Show for helping the school put a system in place to improve the performance of its pupils in Mathematics.
Osewa said the school started its improvement strategy as far back as 2006 when its first representative to the then sponsored Mathematics Competition by Cowbell placed over 100th position in the first stage examination in Ogun State.
The pharmacist-turned-educationist said putting regular training for Mathematics in place and providing incentives for both teachers and pupils had a ripple effect on the overall academic performance of the school in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Cambridge IGCSE.
“Here, we believe anything worth doing is worth doing well. One of our secrets for Mathematics is that we have trained teachers that we remunerate well. And for the students, apart from the Cowbellpedia prizes, we give our own prizes and even scholarship
“This TV Quiz Show played a significant role. We can’t forget Cowbell in the school. They helped us to focus – to do one thing or the other. And we said if we can achieve in Cowbellpedia, why can’t we do same in WASSCE, and Cambridge?” he said
Osewa also said Ambassadors School has 17 Mathematics teachers – and it is normal for more than one teacher to be in a class at once.
“We have more than one teacher teaching a class. In our Senior classes, we have nothing less than three teachers teaching Mathematics at the same time. As one is teaching, one is marking what they are doing,” he said.