THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING MATHEMATICS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL
1.1Background of the Study
Mathematics is a pure science that requires intellectual activity in calculation designed to discover information about the world. It is one of the core subject recommended in the national policy on education at both primary and post primary education. This suggests the importance attached to mathematics whose knowledge is required by every member of the society in view of it’s usefulness in day-to-day activities.
The general aims of mathematics based on mathematics conference held in Kaduna in 1998, identified the following aims:-
- To help students develop a belief in the value of mathematics and its usefulness to them.
- To nurture confidence in their own mathematical ability.
- To foster a sense of personal achievement, and to encourage a continuity and creative interest in mathematics.
- To develop in student’s skills, concepts, understanding and attitude, this will enable them to cope confidentially with mathematics of everyday life.
- To develop a variety of approaches to solving problems involving mathematics and to develop the ability to think and reason logically.
- To assist students to achieve the mathematical and statistical literacy needed in the society, which is technologically oriented and information rich.
- To provide a foundation for those students who may wish to continue studies in mathematics or other learning areas where mathematical concepts are central.
- To help to foster and develop mathematical talent in students and finally;
- To induce or build into students the ability to think creatively, critically, strategically and logically.
The achievement of these objectives at the junior secondary school would serve as foundation or preparatory knowledge, especially for those wishing to study engineering, medicine, agriculture, science and technology at institutes of higher learning and in dealing with other science subjects like physic and chemistry in senior secondary school that is why mathematics is made compulsory for every student in junior secondary in Nigeria, this made it an inevitable subject.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2000), Mathematics is a science of number and shape, which includes as its main division, geometry, arithmetic, algebra and trigonometry.
Mathematics is a science of structures, order and relations that has evolved from elemental practice of counting, measuring and describing the shapes of objects Encyclopedia Britannia (1994).
According to Walfram Math World (1995), Mathematics is a board ranging field of study in, which the properties and interaction of idealized objects are examined. Mathematics is the language of the universe (Smith 1996). Because our universe is mathematically designed (Umar 1995). Conceptualized mathematics as a language, which provides an indispensible means of investigating the nature of things, particularly those that dealt with the field of science. He pointed out that every field of science and technology has some substantial mathematical content though of different degrees.
In support of the above, Ezeilo (1981), noted that there can be no real technological development without a corresponding development in mathematics both as conceived and at practiced.
The teaching of mathematics in junior secondary school exposes students to a mathematical world, and it wonders, thus laying a solid foundation for them.
Umoinyang (1997), referred to mathematics as the foundation for science without, which a nation can never be prosperous and economically independent. He further noted that competence in mathematics provides many of the opportunity for career choice and production of highly defined personnel required by industry, technology, science and education.
For more than two thousand years, mathematics has been a part of human search for understanding. Mathematical discoveries have come both from the attempt to describe the natural world and from the desire to arrive at a form of inescapable truth from careful reasoning. These remains fruitful and important motivation for mathematical thinking, but in the last century mathematics has been successfully applied to many other aspects of the human policies, the analysis of automobile, traffic pattern and long term strategies for sustainable harvest of deciduous forest.
Today mathematics as a mode of thought and expression is more valuable than ever before. Learning to think mathematically is an essential part of becoming a liberally educated person.
There is more to mathematics than just proof. Indeed the vast majority of people who earn their living doing mathematics are not engage in finding proof at all, their goal is to solve problem to whatever degree of accuracy or certainty is required. While proof remains the ultimate goal standard for mathematical truth, conclusion reached on two basis of assessing the available evidence have always been a valid part of the mathematics enterprise Keith Devlin (2009).
Mathematics was introduced into the syllabus with proper study, so many problems has risen like the use of unqualified teachers in the teaching of mathematics in our different schools, who do not have knowledge about the subject mathematics or not mathematically inclined. The non-challant attitudes of students towards mathematics and learning at large, due to the lack of use of motivational approach by the teachers.
The poor environment and lack of infrastructural facilities has led to failure in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The total failure in the usage of instructional material due to poor knowledge of instructional aides by teachers, all these has led to failure in effective teaching and learning of mathematics. We therefore have to go into this research to find a possible solution to the many problems.
Therefore, saying that the teaching and learning of mathematics in junior secondary school is very essential no doubt as it is regarded as a yard stick in the development of any nation.
1.2 Statement of Problem
The ultimate aim of education is to provide knowledge to the world. In an effort to achieve this, knowledge has been divided into a system of studies called subjects with mathematics as one of the elements of the system.
Schooling in developing countries like Nigeria can be tedious and difficult. Imagine where schooling takes place under conditions that are very different from those in developed countries. Students are likely to attend schools that are poorly constructed and under miserable equipment like no windows or doors, no place for student to sit but cracked cemented dirty floor, sometimes teaching and learning takes place under the trees with very bad chalkboard, that students can hardly see what is written on the board clearly.
The curriculum is poorly designed, learning environment typically has few resources and class rooms would have students to accommodate, many of whom are chronically undernourished, parasite ridden and hungry. The job of educating these students is significantly more difficult, with the use of inexperienced, untrained and unqualified teachers in the teaching of mathematics in our different schools can be discouraging, teachers who are not masters in the subject mathematics, they tend not to motivate the student in to seeing the importance and wonders they are to see and gain in the knowledge of mathematics, thereby making students take to play rather than studying.
Teachers neglect the use of instructional materials in the teaching and learning of mathematics. They engage themselves with chalk and talk method of teaching, which lives the students with little or no understanding.
The above prompted the researchers to identify problems militating against the effective teaching and learning of mathematics in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State.
1.3 Research Questions
- What are the qualities of teachers teaching mathematics in our junior secondary schools?
- What are the attitudes of students towards mathematics?
- What are the factors militating against the effective utilization of available instructional material in the teaching of mathematics?
- To what extent is school environment affecting the teaching and learning of mathematics?
1.4 Research Hypothesis
The following are the hypotheses that guild the study:
- The qualities of teachers teaching mathematics would have no significant effect in the teaching and learning of mathematics
- Attitude of students toward teaching and learning of mathematics would have no significant effect in the teaching and learning of mathematics
- The environment would have no significant effect on the learning of mathematics
- The time allocated to the teaching of mathematics would have no significant relationship with the use of instructional material
1.5 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to find out the problem militating against the effective teaching and learning of mathematics in Junior Secondary Schools.
- The qualities of teachers teaching mathematics in junior secondary school.
- The attitudes of students towards learning of mathematics in junior secondary school
- The factors militating against effective utilization of available instructional material in the teaching of mathematics.
- The extent at which school environment affect the teaching and learning of mathematics.
1.6 Significance of the Study
This research study will be of great help to students, teachers, curriculum planners and the society at large in the following ways;
The findings of this research will help students who are directly concerned to appreciate the subject mathematics, encouraging them to put more effort in the study since it is inevitable. This research study will expose the importance of mathematics, it wonders and the fun and happiness it gives, making them understand that mathematics is an easy subject so as to remove every negative sentiment, attitudes and fear students have towards the study of mathematics.
This research will expose areas the teachers need to put more efforts in the teaching of mathematics. It will further help teachers in employing better techniques and methods of teaching to the best understanding of the students.
The research study will be of immense help to the prospective and present curriculum planners. It will enlighten and widen their knowledge towards making an effective curriculum that will be better understood by the teacher who is to implement it, to achieve its objectives.
This research study is an eye opener to the general public in making people see the importance of mathematics and its usefulness in day-to-day activities and the indispensable contribution of mathematics in nation building.
1.7 Scope/limitation of the study
This study will cover Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State. It will focus on those factors militating against effective teaching and learning of mathematics.
Due to the time stipulated to cover this study, it will be very difficult to cover all schools in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State. For this reason, this study will be limited to only five public secondary in the Sapele Local Government council. The schools are:
- Okpe Grammar School, Amukpe
- Elume Grammar School, Elume
- Okotiebor Grammar School, Sapele
- Orudje Secondary School, Sapele
Due to financial and economic nature of Nigeria, couple with the researchers’ lectures, it become very difficult to carry out a full study
THE CHALLENGE OF TEACHING MATHEMATICS IN SECONDARY SCHOOL