This profile was prepared when S.N. Gananath was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
In a society like India's, where poverty and class limit social mobility and technical expertise is valued, math is a particularly empowering form of knowledge. S.N. Gananath's project exploits the potential of math to improve the quality of life. As he puts it, "We believe that Maths is a life skill, something like language. That is why we took Maths as a focus area." From his experience as a teacher, he knows that children often develop a fear of mathematics at a very early age. Gananath changes their experience of math by teaching it in a way that makes it understandable and relevant. His method is new in the context of Indian educational practice, in which students traditionally learn math through a regimented process.Gananath trains teachers to establish mathematics laboratories in schools around the country. In these labs, teachers enable children to "see" math in its simplest forms and relate it to events in their everyday lives. Gananath's methodology will be able to reach a very large number of children because he has designed the elements of the lab to be produced from simple, easily available items. Thus, even the remote rural schools that have little or no access to expensive, readymade teaching aids will be able to replicate Gananath's method easily.