Usually, Algebra is introduced around grade 6. By that time, students are so accustomed to using numbers in Maths that they cannot imagine Maths beyond numbers. They get intimidated by the fact that they have to deal with letters ‘x, y, z’ in Maths. This fear blocks their mind for any further learning and the process of ‘mugging up’ begins.
I believe that even a 5 year old child understands Algebra intuitively. When I tell this belief to grade 6 students, they don’t agree initially but atleast they are eager to prove me wrong.
(Yes, I give my students incentives to prove me or any book wrong)
I give 5 Mangoes & 2 Pears to a child. After some time, I give him 2 more mangoes and 1 more pear, how many mangoes & pears would he have in total ?
This is not difficult even for a 5 year old. Soon, he will be ready with an answer. He has used algebra to solve it. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
5 Mangoes + 2 Pears + 2 Mangoes + 1 Pear
= 7 Mangoes + 3 Pears
Mathematicians are a bit lazy. They don’t write Mango & Pear. Instead, they use M for Mango and P for Pear.
5M + 2P + 2M + 1P
= 7M + 3P
Does it look like Algebra to you now ?
Yes, Algebra is all about organizing the similar terms and simplifying things as much as possible.
In fact, Maths is not just about numbers, it is about patterns. The true virtue of mathematics is that it saves efforts.
Few examples to think:
1. If you are a cashier, what do you do ? You organize the similar notes in one section. It is Algebra, isn’t it ?
2. If you have to tidy up your kitchen, what do you do ? Spoons in cutlery section, bowls in bowl section, plates in a separate section. That is Algebra.
I love connecting maths concepts to things around us, so here comes a very basic connection between Algebra & Life.
Algebra in Maths – Organizing and Simplifying the expression/equation.
Algebra in life – Organizing and Simplifying anything around you.
Proper introduction of the concept plays a key role in further learning. Introduction should be as intuitive as possible and it should be very close to our students’ lives so that they can grasp the concept just like 1, 2, 3.