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Vol. XXVII No. 11, September 16-30, 2017

Celebrating Madras Week

A traditional way of learning maths

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A houseful of teachers listen to Vinitha.

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Play a game and learn your Maths.

A strategy game and geometry. Cowrie shells and Probability. Tamarind seeds and mathematical concepts. So many varied thoughts, yet they all came together in a high energy workshop conducted by Kreeda and the Ramanujan Museum and Math Education Centre at the Museum premises in Royapuram as part of the Madras Week celebrations.

Aimed at primary and secondary math teachers from schools around Chennai, the workshop had a record attendance of 56 teachers and the hall was literally bursting at the seams. Surprising that the energy and enthusiasm of the teachers and the sheer joy of playing traditional games from Chennai did not explode those seams!
Conducted by Vinita Sidhartha of Kreeda and Meena Suresh of the Ramanujan Math Centre, the aim of the workshop was to explore how traditional games can be used to teach mathematical concepts and the critical thinking that the games develop in students.

The workshop explored games played with tamarind seeds, the traditional Indian Snakes and Ladders – Parama Padam, the popular local three-in-a-row game – Kattam Vilayattu, the pallanguzhi, and the challenging puzzle game – Nakshatra Vilayattu, among others.

Each game was played and then presented through varied mathematical concepts that are required for primary and middle school students. Participants were also introduced to various traditional elements of play, such as long dice, cowrie shells and the math lessons they can teach.

All the games were drawn from those popular around Madras through the years and teachers were introduced to the background of the games too. The session culminated with the ever popular Aadu Puli Aatam, a game that Ramanujan is reported to have played with his mother. This is a strategy game that develops critical thinking skills and was very popular in and around Madras, as is evident from the numerous inscriptions in the temples around here.
The noise level was palpable, the laughter was riotous and the learning was tremendous. All elements for a wonderful session – and perhaps one of the most interesting ways of learning mathematics!


  1. S. V . Rangarajan says:

    Happy to know the things what were happened in madras day

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