Wisdom Vine

Overcoming Math Anxiety

A familiar story

How many times have you or anyone you know heard any of these things?

  1. You’re not good at Math
  2. You’re either born with or without a knack for solving math
  3. Math is something you’re just good at or bad at.

Sounds familiar? Maybe, even irritating?

Well, that’s a classic example of math anxiety in play. There are several reasons why we could be kicking this into motion. Most notable ones being:

  1. For a long time running, intelligence is being measured in direct correlation to how good one is at math
  2. A lot of people who are not good at math unconsciously pass on the anxiety to people who look up to them.

For example:
A teacher tells a student “You’re not good at math”. That causes the child to start becoming anxious. His1 interest lies in the improvement, but then, there is this voice that plays in his head: “You’re not good at math”. This tends to disturb him every time he tries to study math. He opens the book, the voice plays! He’s a child. He does not know how to deal with it!
So, in his interest in not facing the thought head-on, he closes the book.
But, when it is exam time, it’s the same story! Open the book – the voice gets louder even. But he cannot close the book – because, if he does not score a good number, he cannot bear the thought of what would happen with him! He seems to be studying. But he is spending all his energy battling the math anxiety and has less scope for him to focus on Math!
Come to the exam, he would end up making mistakes he otherwise would not have made. Not because he is less intelligent, but because he is extremely anxious! And for someone who looks at his answer paper – including him, “He is not good at math”

Let’s sum up the situation – He is not good at math, because he is anxious about not being good at math, and NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!

And this trouble is what we call Mathathematics Anxiety
In this article, I intend to cover these things:

  1. Is the notion of “Math is something you’re just good at or bad at.” really true?
  2. If someone is presumably “bad” at math, how can that person improve?
    (This includes an approach to math in general)

The truth about Math

In grade 7, I personally struggled to understand why 3a+b=3a+3b. It was confusing for me! And frankly, I don’t even remember how I understood the concept later on, but what I do remember is what I did after I felt that way! Instead of shying away from my math book, I thought to myself that I enjoyed numbers, and why should something like this stop me from enjoying myself further? And I opened the book. Chapter – simple equations. It was a bit of a challenge for me initially, but after 4 – 5 questions, I finally found my stride, and within 2 hours, the whole exercise was done! Now, I wasn’t able to do it because I somehow was always magically “good at math”. I did it because, I got a little better in those two hours, thanks to my effort and not giving up! I didn’t suffer from math anxiety. And there began my journey of getting better at math! It was a journey filled with excitement, exploration, and a lot of days where some things just didn’t make sense! But for me, as long as I was determined to fi it out, all went well!
What I want someone to take away from the story is not the fact that I am better at math. This is not to highlight personal glory! What I do want you to takeaway is that – You can get better at math by simply trying!
The truth about math – Nobody is born good at math! One is as good at math as the effort he has put in understanding and practice.
Coming to think about it – isn’t it true for any subject?

If it is so simple, then how can someone get better at Math?

Here’s an activity – open up your textbook. Choose any concept you’re struggling with – or any chapter where you are struggling to solve the problems. And try these things out! 

(This article might also help: Simple, Everyday Ways to Improve Your Child’s Math Skills

  • Start with the basics
    A lot of concepts in math is built on something that we already know. Even something that seems new, has its roots in ideas that are familiar to use in some of the other forms
    For example – when we progress from numbers to algebra, we tend to feel overwhelmed! Why do we have to deal with these stupid letters? Why can’t we be happy with the numbers? Do we see the beginnings of math anxiety creeping in? However, if you look at it without these thoughts, what you will see is that the core ideas are based on things you already know!
    You can add numbers – 2 + 3 is 5. Similarly, you can add variables – a + b.
    The problem lies in us trying to understand what the numerical value of this “a+b” thing will be. Instead, if we just treat this as we are adding two numbers, whose value we don’t know, all would be good!
    Any time you don’t know something, it’s always a good idea to kick back to the very basics!
  • Explore the path to the unknown
    Haven’t I mentioned that concepts are built on things we already know? But then, there’s something that we wouldn’t know, and that is exactly what the lesson aims to achieve.
    For instance, if you know integers, then the chapter on rational numbers build on to the concept of what a rational number is using integers.
    If you were to start with integers, how would you end up at rational numbers? Would you just accept that it is of some form, or would you try and understand what is happening?
    The thing with integers – add, subtract, or multiply two integers, we will always get an integer. But when we divide integers, we can no longer say that we will always get an integer. If we don’t get an integer, what do we get?
    Now, if you are able to ask these questions, and ensure that you’re taking it one step at a time, then, you’re exploring the concept. A lot of sources give away information, more than what your textbooks might be giving away, and it’s all easily accessible through the internet now. But when you actually start by asking small, silly questions even, you’ll realize that any concept that could potentially come across is nothing new! It is something you felt like you knew, and now, it has a name to it!
    (want some more help? This might do the trick: Ways to Improve Mental Maths with Simple Tricks )
  • Start small – one problem at a time
    Concepts are crucial for understanding math. But then, there still are these standard tests that you’d need to take. And these tests can be a major cause for maths anxiety. These tests usually don’t check how well you were able to establish the concept. But, they want to know how well you can identify what concept to apply in a particular problem
    And that’s why a lot of time is spent on teaching how to solve problems by everyone!
    But, before we know what concept we need to use, there’s still one thing remaining!
    You started with a concept – understanding what you already knew that will establish this concept better. And you had some fun exploring the concept till you reach the unknown! But, how do we put this concept to solve those problems?
    Once you know that you understood a concept, it’s good to open up the small exercises related to the concept. Even the textbook knows you’re beginning to embrace that concept, so they would go easy on those questions. It may seem silly to solve an equation like “x+5 =7” at first, but then, these are the questions that build up your confidence and make you feel like “You can do it”, and you know what? You can!
  • Understand the question
    Okay, now is the time that you face some questions that are a nightmare. And frankly speaking, it’s not going to be easy for anyone to face those questions!
    But then, is it really that hard?
    From experience, I can say this: Each question presents a story, and it is asking you for help! sort of like the question has math anxiety and needs assistance. There is something the question isn’t able to figure out, but it’s reaching out to you to look at it with all the tools that you have learned in math! In other words, the question is helpless, and you have the power to help it!
    How would you help a question which is helpless? You start by understanding what its problem is, and what needs to be sorted out! And that’s half the battle won, right there!
    Break each question down, see what it is asking your help for!
  • Plan it out!
    Okay, now you have broken down the question, understood what it needs, you still need to get there! That’s where you’d learn planning – yet another crucial skill for life
    In any math question, there are somethings that you would know, there are some things you need to find out. And the solution is all about exploring the path to the unknown! Similar to when you were exploring the concept, right?
    Here, too, you would need to explore. But then, you have something in your hand that will help you power through the path – the concepts and the formulae! Each concept presents some relationship where you can find something out. And if you’re lucky, using that concept, you can find out the unknown in the first try itself! Else, it would take you some two or three such concepts for you to establish the link between the known and the unknown, but there is no stopping you.
  • Practice, practice, and more practice: Once you have all these practices in place, you can really be a master of math with loads of practice! The more you practice, the better. Of course, there are other things you would want to do with your time, but then, the old saying is true – the more you do the math, the better you get at it! You need not spend a lot of time in practice because let’s face it, it gets boring after a while. But, having a schedule, and sticking to it works wonders! Maybe one hour a week dedicated just to math?

All in all, there’s nothing stopping you from being awesome at Math! There’s really no need to be nervous or have math anxiety at all! So go out there and break some eggs!

Wisdom Vine

Study hacks during Lockdown

People who have been involved in martial arts or martial studies often experience stress, especially during periods of study, lockdown, or learning. The theory is that students need to learn to face their anxieties in order to become better people. Here are some useful study hacks for the lockdown.

Look up: Creating the perfect study space for children

Remain Calm

Most importantly, no matter what your situation, do not become defensive or worried. Students should let anxiety pass by, and if a lockdown is happening, the next best thing to do is to remain calm. No matter what, if you think you are going to lose control, try to relax.

If you are still in lockdown, try to remember your study hacks in lockdown. Although many students are apprehensive, they should do everything possible to remain calm. Being relaxed can help them through the next phase of the lockdown, which is the next part of their studies.

Remember to exercise

The second phase of the lockdown is when students are required to work out the anxiety they were experiencing before the lockdown. In many cases, students need to find new outlets for their energy. Learning how to work out this energy can help them as they attempt to overcome the anxiety they were feeling before the lockdown.

Many people have experienced anxiety in studying, and all of these individuals will benefit from practising the study tips in lockdown that were discussed above. Students must find outlets for their energy, whether it is yoga meditation, tai chi, or anything else that allows them to escape from their busy minds. When these students find ways to release the pent up energy, they are more able to focus on what they are studying.

Don’t lose focus

The third phase of the lockdown is an extension of the studies tips in lockdown that require students to focus on what they are studying. This is an especially important phase of the lockdown because, although students are required to remain focused, the lockdown allows students to become distracted. They are often motivated to study in the lockdown because the boredom and pressures of lockdown can lead to a sense of discouragement.

To combat this, students can practice the study hacks in lockdown that require them to focus on their studies. They should avoid distractions, such as cell phones, television, or even the radio. Simply finding a quiet place in which to work can be a big help in the lockdown.

Avoid stressing out

The last phase of the lockdown is something that students should be prepared for. In many cases, students feel overwhelmed and are likely to panic at any given moment. If students feel any type of anxiety or stress during the lockdown, they should try to remain calm and focus on their Studies.

This might help: How to Help your Child Cope with the Stress of Covid – 19

Lido Bytes Product Launch

Why we launched English

When Lido launched in March 2019, it offered only Math and Science to students from English medium schools but we quickly found out that students on the platform were struggling to speak and read English.

Even though we focused only on English medium schools, 60% of our students opted for our courses in Hinglish. For these students with weaker English skills, they did not know how to interpret word problems in Math, or answer questions in Science, so they would just memorize the solution, instead of truly understanding the material. This was one of the key reasons that students “mug” or memorize study material. We realized that offering English was critical to our students to succeed not just in school but also in life. 

So in May 2020, we launched our third subject: English. 

We are the first to offer English online for this young age group in India. There are no coaching classes for English for middle schoolers (Grades 4-8) which is our customer base. Things like Enguru target adult learners, by which time it is much more difficult to pick up English. Only when you start at a young age can you really build this fluency. That being said, we don’t just focus on spoken English for professional settings.

Lido is the full-stack solution to mastering English. Asynchronous learning only helps with grammar, and coaching classes only focus on speaking.  However, Lido’s English curriculum focuses on not just grammar, comprehension, and writing – the skills that are taught and tested in the syllabus – but also plays a huge emphasis on helping its students to build their English fluency through conversation. Our unique learning format of small group tutoring with 1 teacher and up to 6 students allows teachers to give personalized attention and mentor students so that they build proficiency and confidence in their speaking skills. 

Just like in China with VIP Kids, we see a huge market opportunity in India where parents are eager to build their child’s English skills and are looking for an effective, convenient, and affordable method to do so, and Lido’s English program provides exactly that. 

From just the first few weeks of our English course, we have seen tremendous growth and excitement. Our existing customers are choosing to opt-in and add a new subject and all our new customers have been signing up fro English right from the get-go. Anticipating soaring demand, we’re all set to hire another 300 English teachers in just the next month of June.

Also read: Common Mistakes you should avoid while speaking English

Lido Bytes

The perfect classroom… does exist

For the first 15 years of my life I experienced an Indian classroom in the most traditional sense.

I sat in a classroom of 42 other students, in rows of desks and chairs, facing a blackboard where teacher after teacher would drone on and on about Math and Science and English and Hindi. Occasionally we would be asked a question or two but most of the time we listened to our teachers lecture us and took notes in our brown paper-covered notebooks. When I got bored in class, which was pretty often, I would go for long meandering walks to the girl’s bathroom or sometimes take a nap on my desk; or better yet, when I was feeling particularly disruptive, I would make a snarky comment and get thrown out of class. Most of us would be counting the minutes before the bell would ring signaling the end of the class. And we would live for a lunch break. Before exams we would frantically memorize our textbooks, have extra sessions with our tuition teachers, and general panic, praying that we would all somehow pass. 

This is not to say that I had horrible teachers. In fact, I think I had some of the best in India, but it was really the style of learning of lectures, of drab textbooks, of assignments that asked you to recall rather than think, that really bored me. I don’t remember anything that I learned in school: something that I have realized during all the trivia that we have been playing during the lockdown. I cannot remember the noble gases, and I cannot remember which Mogul empire fell down the stairs and died. 

So if you had asked me then, I would have unequivocally told you that the perfect classroom does not exist. But I had no idea there was even another way of learning, a way where you actually looked forward to going to class and had learnings that you remembered years later.

In 2011, I moved from Mumbai, a city of 21 million people, to a sleepy little town of 2000 people in rural New Hampshire to go to a boarding school named Phillips Exeter Academy.  I moved from classrooms in India with 50 kids competing to get top marks, to classrooms of 12 students where we taught each other through the Socratic method. Exeter had its own unique way of learning – Harkness – where every single classroom had a large wooden table that could seat just 12 students and a teacher. There were no textbooks, no lectures – instead no matter what the subject, our teachers would pose a question, and then through discussion, debate, inference, and confusion, we would collectively discover the knowledge. I distinctly remember learning to derive the formula in Math, rather than just memorize it from the textbook; of working through Shakespeare and interpreting the soliloquies ourselves, rather than noting down the ‘translation’ and interpretation.

In this classroom, I learnt to fiercely disagree with ideas, not individuals, going to dinner with that same person that I had vehemently challenged in class; I learnt how to get comfortable with my own voice and value the uniqueness of others; I learnt how to act as men and women for others, that our talent was wasted, if not in the service of others; I learnt that in the right environment even the shyest, quietest child can blossom. It was a uniquely special environment, and I was acutely aware of how lucky I was to be going through this transformational experience.

This was the perfect classroom, but it was for a select few: my boarding school had a graduating class of 350, a tiny tiny drop in an ocean. The experience I was having in the classroom was something I wanted to bring back home to India, with its 250 million students. This was the kind of school I wanted to bring to India; however, this was also a school that had a $1.5 billion endowment so it was slightly unrealistic. 

Instead of trying to build one Indian Exeter, I started thinking about how I could try to transform the Indian school system that focused on rote learning, memorization, competitiveness, standardization into one that celebrated creativity, independent thought, collaboration, value-based action. And I wanted this type of school to be accessible to every single Indian.

That has inspired my journey into Edtech and why in February 2019 I joined Lido’s founding team. At Lido, we are taking that vision of the perfect classroom, of engaged learners, supportive teachers, interactive formats, and discussion-based learning, and turning it into a reality at scale for millions of Indian students. 

Our classrooms at Lido are designed to teach not just subject matter to students (which we do through immersive storylines and real-world examples, embedded assessments through contests, games and live quizzes) but to also build the skills that are essential to success in the 21st century: critical thinking, English fluency, confidence, creativity, collaboration. By recreating the small group format online, of 1 teacher and 6 students, we create the space for students to speak their mind, ask questions, learn from each other, build meaningful relationships with their teachers, find their voice. And each day, we are pushing the boundaries of what relational and Socratic pedagogy, combined with tech-driven by AI and personalization, can do to build a learning environment that caters to every student’s unique needs and untapped potential. 

So now ask me again if the perfect classroom exists.

Lido Bytes

Why we built Lido

The world is moving towards increased personalization and interaction in every way. Education needs to follow suit. However, doing this in education, especially in India is challenging. 

In schools, the student to teacher ratio averages as 1:40, hence it is difficult for teachers to personalize learning for each student. Therefore, schools typically follow a one size fits all approach – standardizing explanations and assessments for all students. Due to the large class size, teachers typically follow a “show and tell” method to teach concepts. In such classes, students do not actively take part in the learning process. Thus, students leave school with theoretical knowledge gained through rote learning and very little knowledge that they can apply to “out of textbook” context.

The scenario in after-school tuition is slightly different, because the class size is smaller, allowing for more attention from the teacher. However, the core problems remain the same: the teacher demonstrates how to solve sums and makes homework and assessments that are the same for students across all batches. But most tutors do not have the tools or the bandwidth to offer tailored practice to students which they need in order to truly improve their weaker areas. 

In the last few years, E-learning apps have tried to fill this gap. These companies disaggregate the problem and attempt to fix parts – one replaces textbooks with videos, another focuses on doubt solving – but none offer the full stack experience for the student, and tracks the student throughout. The onus is on the student to be proactive for their learning, which is hard when most students would rather do anything but study! Furthermore in asynchronous apps, the human interaction between teacher and student and peer-to-peer learning is missing. This connection between student and teacher is critical to success in learning as teachers provide mentorship, coaching, and doubt solving.

What was missing was a solution that focused on giving students both the textbook (aka the content) and a tutor. Great learning outcomes only occur when you are able to control the entire experience. 

So that is why we decided to build Lido.

At Lido, we want to make sure that every single student learns from the perfect class, every single time. We do this by building best in class content to match your school curriculum, and delivering it in the most interactive and exciting format in our live classroom (think animated videos, games, live quizzes!). And we do this in a small group format of just six students so that students can ask doubts, get support, and build meaningful relationships with their expert Lido teachers. 

Learning on Lido is:

  • Holistic, best in class, adaptive learning: We have built the best content, best assessments, best practice problems through deep research. Once a student uses Lido, all the resources they need, and more, are all on the platform: no additional E-learning apps, question banks, practice tests, explanation videos. By tracking individual student learning we are able to customize homework, additional practice, remedial help, and challenges to target where each student needs help the most.
  • Live and interactive: The average classroom size in India is 55 students which means that students do not get the personalized attention that they need when it comes to doubt-solving, coaching, and mentoring. Our live classrooms are led by a qualified and well-trained teacher coach and a peer group of a similar achievement level. The max student to teacher ratio is 1:6 which means that students aren’t lost in the classroom left to navigate through the material on their own or be guided by an AI assistant.
  • Fun: The ugly truth is that most students hate studying, and why wouldn’t they? They are used to drab textbooks, boring formats, and one-directional learning. Not only does learning on Lido happen through immersive storylines, real-world examples, live quiz contests, but we also have a unique reward system that gamifies the platform so the more you learn, the more you earn! 
  • Quality assured: High-quality teachers are in short supply in India so traditional models are unable to scale for lack of teachers. At Lido, you can trust that every teacher has been carefully vetted and trained by our rigorous program but more importantly, they have been given the tools they need to deliver a perfect learning experience every single time. 
  • Affordable: Our goal is to democratize high-quality education: learning should not be limited to the major cities, and to those who can afford it. Through our content, tutors, and platform, we are able to bring best in class learning to every single student in the country at very affordable prices. Our online format makes it convenient to learn anytime, anywhere.

At Lido, we believe that every student is unique and every student has the potential to change the world. Not only do we teach students Math, Science, English, and Coding to succeed at school but we also provide mentorship from world leaders in business, technology and politics, career support, and leadership training. All in the hopes that our students can be the leaders of tomorrow. We believe that no dream is too big for Lido Learners!