When Yakub realised that chalk and board method wasn’t working, he set up a lab to help his students visualise and understand math concepts with real models.

Yakun Koyyur, a teacher in Dakshina Kannada, standing in his Maths Lab
news Education Monday, August 24, 2020 - 18:46

When Yakub S Koyyur started the ‘Maths Lab’ in 2015, his aim was simply to allow his high school students to grasp mathematical concepts better through real-life models and applications. Today, his efforts have led him to become one of the 47 teachers chosen from all over India to receive the National Award to Teachers-2020 bestowed by the Union Ministry of Education.

Yakub, who has been teaching mathematics since 1996 in Government High School Nada, a remote village in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, is receiving this honour for adopting progressive and innovative teaching methods.

While teachers are exploring online teaching methods and the benefits of the internet today due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 52-year-old Yakub took the online world with a storm much earlier with his Maths Lab in 2015 and subsequently, a blog and a YouTube channel called Maths Magic where he uploads notes and videos explaining maths concepts at his lab.

The lab happened when Yakub observed that these concepts could sometimes seem hard to grasp for students. “Over the years, I used the chalk and board method. However, I found that many students found it difficult to understand theorems or visualize mathematical concepts. Hence, I decided to create a laboratory to show through models how these theorems, formulas, and equations work,” said Yakub.

So, Yakub turned an unused room at the government high school into a state-of-the-art lab, where students can now touch, feel and study mathematical concepts.

This was not without challenges. Initially, finances were tight. But Yakub’s former students decided to help by pitching in to make their favorite teacher's dream come true. The lab was set up at a cost of Rs 25 lakh, and once inaugurated, there was no turning back.

Yakub has created over 100 models to present simple mathematical concepts. For example, Yakub explains, that an exterior angle of a triangle is equal to the sum of the two opposite interior angles. To make students understand, Yakub actually built the triangles. Yakub’s students have also learned to use trigonometry in real-world applications – such as gauging the heights of trees in their school neighbourhood with simple trigonometry equations.

While Yakub’s maths lab became an instant hit, the passionate teacher decided to take the lessons outside the four walls, and started the blog and YouTube channel, which now has over 300 videos of lessons, and maths concepts demonstrated in his lab.

"When I had decided to start the Maths Lab, some of my colleagues opposed it saying it is useless to start a lab for maths. They asked me to change the lab into one exhibiting science models. However, once they saw how it works, they appreciated it," Yakub shared.

Through Maths Magic, Yakub has gained statewide recognition. His ideas and the lab became role models to other teachers who too started introducing similar methods and labs in their respective government schools.  

Yakub was honoured with the Best District teacher Award in 2016, State Teacher Award in 2018, and is all set to receive the national award this year.

Hailing from a simple background, Yakub has always had a passion for education and teaching. He has lived in the Dakshina Kannada district most of his life and was born and brought up in Koyyur. Yakub used to walk 24 kilometers every day to attend SDM High School in Ujire. Later, he graduated with a BSc from SDM College and took up a B Ed Course in Mangalore University. He received the second rank after which he was appointed to teach in Nada Government High School.

Recognised for his passion for teaching, Yakub was also appointed as a member of Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan, which is setup by Ministry of Human Resource Development to encourage learning of science and maths.

While the COVID-19 situation has upset the academic calendar, Yakub is receiving feedback from fellow teachers on how his lessons on the YouTube Channel are making teaching simpler during this pandemic.

Yakub’s Maths Lab is currently focusing on high school students but he is contemplating to include practical lessons suiting primary schoolchildren.

Yakub keeps updating his blog - https://ykoyyur.blogspot.com/ - with class notes, question papers and answer keys which are used as study guides by students to prepare for the SSLC maths exam.

He is also part of the Vidyagama programme, launched by the State Education Department in the wake of COVID-19, to ensure continuous learning.

Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)

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