Can Calculus be Fun?

Calculus classes are a nightmare for most students. Parents share this feeling and teachers complain about the difficulty they face in making the students understand this subject. But is calculus really tough? How come there are students who enjoy the subject. Fortunately your kid will also love calculus if taught the proper way.

One thing we need to keep in mind is that calculus, even though a branch of mathematics is a little different from the other branches. You can easily grasp algebra, trigonometry or geometry without any understanding of calculus. But it is impossible to learn calculus without a strong base in the other three branches of mathematics.

Calculus has two main branches – differentiation and integration – which require a clear understanding of the concept of limits. Students find these concepts intimidating and boring. They get confused with the array of equations and formulas. Their inability to understand the subject is reflected in their poor grades.

What can a teacher do to make calculus sessions fun? With a few easy steps a teacher can convert the otherwise dreaded session in to an interesting opportunity for students to learn. Try not to start the class with a problem. Rather introduce the subject properly. Let the students know the historical perspective of calculus. Grab their attention by explaining the background of the subject like who introduced calculus, why was calculus developed and so on.

Talk about the people who contributed to the development of calculus. This will help students to relate more to the subject and understand that calculus is not a book full of formulas but is a set of methods developed over time to provide solutions to some of the very complicated problems and issues people face in their day-to-day lives.

People learn better when they read and form their own ideas. Let your students pick a mathematics pioneer who had contributed to calculus, do a little bit of research on the person and his contributions and share the knowledge thereby gained with the class. You will be surprised to see the interest students will show in learning calculus once they understand the importance and influence the subject has in real life.

During your next session familiarize your students with the vocabulary of calculus. Students might get confused when you start off without explaining the meaning of words like integral, differential, derivative, vectors etc. You can impress your students by giving some examples on how these words can be used during their regular conversations. This will help create a feeling of comfort when students deal with problems involving these words. Students will start looking at these words from a different perspective.

When you move on deeper into the subject explain to your students the real-life application of each of the concepts. Instead of telling them that the first order differentiation of x2 gives2x, explain the concept with examples and values. Motivate children the positive way. Instead of scolding or punishing a student for making a mistake, try rewarding the ones that get a solution right, in front of other students. Divide the class into teams and conduct a calculus quiz once in a while to make sure that the concepts are fresh in the minds of your students.