Published: 12th December 2018
National Mathematics Day: BYJU'S strategy queen tells us how she's a Math teacher at her core
Anita Kishore tells us why mathematics is not a subject that should be feared, but one that everyone should embrace as second nature
If you've hated math all your life or if you hate math currently, Anita Kishore will work very hard to convince you otherwise. Having been to IIM Ahmedabad and having worked at the Boston Consulting Group, you would wonder how Anita Kishore ended up being a Math teacher and eventually ended up as the Chief Strategy Officer at BYJU'S. She tells us, "The way I met Byju (Raveendran) was when I was preparing for my CAT exam in my final year of engineering. Having years of experience in teaching, I related to the methodologies adopted by him. When he took a few sessions for us in math, I understood the different perspectives of math and I found it quite peculiar that Math was easier than I thought it would be."
Role: Anita Kishore is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at BYJU'S
Like any other passionate individual, Anita always had a soft-corner for teaching from the time she was young. She explains, "Right from my childhood, I had a passion for teaching. I used to teach all the kids in my neighbourhood — some were younger than me and some were older. Even during my engineering course, I used to teach kids right after I was done with college. I would still like to continue in teaching if I had the chance but the core of my time is occupied with the other work." And the other work is pretty massive. Raising Byju's profile by being instrumental in acquisitions and getting investment from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg is no small task.
As somebody who has worked with a lot of numbers, she goes on to explain how each individual's capacity must be taken into consideration while explaining important math concepts to them, "I have not seen kids who are unable to work their way around maths. Especially if they are taught the right way and if the teacher takes the extra effort to understand what their students are struggling with and work on solving that. The biggest mistake every educational institution makes is to label kids in categories such as 'below average,' 'above average' and 'average.' Every child has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. The teacher has to take the time to leverage the strengths of every child and convey concepts to each child.
When asked why people are generally afraid of the subject, this is what Anita has to say, "You cannot force a child to mug-up formulae and hope they understand the subject. The amount of effort every teacher takes to ensure that every child understands the subject is what matters. Every child enters school with a notion that Math is a difficult subject and the educational institutions instill those notions in them as well and that's how the fear of the subject creeps in." She goes on to explain why Math is not as hard as people make it out to be, "Really young children do a great job at Math, in fact, my three-year-old daughter says things like 'I have three chocolates and if I give one to mom, I'll have two left'. She doesn't look at it in the context of addition and subtraction. So fundamentally all of us have the capacity to think logically. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, the way we were taught made us forget what logical thinking actually meant."
Did you know that Indian mathematicians laid down the foundation of Maths today? Anita elaborates further, "Concepts laid down by Aryabhatta and Bhaskara were further developed to the Mathematics we follow today, but simultaneously scholars around the world were working on similar concepts. Due to the lack of communication across geographies, there was never a consensus on who laid the foundation."