The Good Old Song
The first couple of Fuzzy classes were… pretty normal! I’d walk in, present a definition, guide them to construct examples. It was already a bit of extra work; because the minimum required of me is to write those definitions and examples and quickly explain it.
The mathematics classes these days are like traditional churches. They sing the good ole hymns in the classroom, read from the order of worship written many years ago.*
Let me take you back in time again. Duraivel sir was my officially assigned mentor back in PU. Before the 4th semester started, I approached him for out-of-syllabus project work. He told me, “You’ve learned only mathematics up to 1700s, those of Euler’s etc. It takes a lot of reading to catch up to even 2000s – you don’t want to indulge in that tedious process at this point of time“.
An average student like me was capable of learning what the book prescribes and not creating mathematics. We were capable of only singing the same good old hymns, repeating the chants after the priest.
Let me clarify; far as I understood, he didn’t say that it’s impossible. He said it’s a lot of hard work at this moment, given our upbringing in different educational institutions. Our priorities should be centred on analysing and learning to enjoy the maths constructed for us by our predecessors. Doing that now will prepare us to create mathematics in future.
That became my pet-project, as I started teaching. I first tried to abstractly explore the concept of creating mathematics. That revolutionized the way I perceived mathematics and mathematics research.
But if we are not capable of innovating at our level; how will I expose them to the process of creating mathematics themselves?
The solution was simple. If we can’t let them create new mathematics, we can train them for the same by making them rediscover the established mathematics. And in the process, they pick up one or two skills a mathematician usually boasts about.
I have been ruminating on the feasibility of such a pedagogy for a while now. The pedagogical framework born out of it was mature enough to be tested now. Also, Fuzzy was the ideal paper for many reasons. It was easy to understand, the syllabus was light. It had immediate real-world applications, too.
* Note that I am myself from a traditional Christian background and I am not saying it’s right or wrong.