He is a former international cricketer, a golf player, and a commentator. She is an award-winning educationist whose work in the field is commendable. Together, the husband-wife duo Ajit and Fatima Agarkar have merged the world of sports and education to start Agarkar Centre of Excellence (ACE), a foundation that focuses on integrating the two.
They have partnered with Divesh Bathija’s UnMath School to teach mathematics beyond textbooks. Think virtual conversations, cricket videos, case studies and discussions with cricket fans. “We have been working on this for a while now, and started to test it out since April with complimentary sessions. With the lockdown, schooling has taken up most of the students’ time, but these sessions have been a welcome change because the methodology is unusual. “Students are often subject to math problems through imaginary names and situations — like Jerry had 100 pens or Train A was moving at so-and-so speed but here, they get to link the problem to an actual cricket situation and learn to solve it quickly,” explains Fatima. Joining us on the call, Ajit adds, “The idea is to enjoy the subject, and make it more play than study. I’ve struggled with it, so has my son but we found that you understand the concepts better when they are associated with real-life situations. And what better than cricket — from run rates to bowling speed to degree of spin to batting average and scores, the sport is all about numbers and so associating it with mathematics will make it interesting for students to learn and understand the subject better.”
Fatima and Ajit Agarkar
The former cricketer will also be sharing anecdotes from matches to illustrate a problem, making learning a fun and engaging experience. As a bonus, there are case-studies for parents who are cricket enthusiasts.
The short certified courses developed for Grade 4 to 8 begin with a functional online skill assessment to determine the appropriate ‘play’ level for children. The levels are Rookie Play (beginners), Rookie Plus Play (intermediate) and Pro Play (advanced) with four sessions in each, covering topics like fractions, percentages, probabilities, transformations, linear and non-linear equations and decimals. Fatima says, “There is so much one learns on the field. Sports is the perfect blend of decision-making, handling pressure, managing conflicts, creativity, flexibility, relationship management, time management and project management skills. These are skills required to be future-ready and hence a course like this is a great way to induct students into a smart curriculum.”
A screenshot from the session
On June 27 and 28; July 4 and 5 (one-hour sessions)
Cost Rs 650 per session
Log on to www.facebook.com/cricketmath
Asmi Likhite tries out the session
For a test drive, we asked Asmi Likhite, a sixth grader from Thane, to try out one of the recorded sessions with Divesh Bathija. The 11-year-old isn’t a fan of cricket, and has more of a creative slant, so we felt she would be the ideal candidate to test the waters, especially for the concept and methodology. It took a while initially, to arrest her interest but Asmi admitted that she enjoyed the parts where questions were related to a match clip, or statistics that were shared on screen.
The participants too kept sharing trivia, which she felt was a fun way to get introduced to the game. Some topics like fractions and percentages are sections that she has been learning at school, so it felt a bit relatable; however, she wasn’t too enthused with the session. And while some of the cricket terminologies were literally like bouncers for her, Asmi’s father Aniket, a cricket enthusiast, found the pre-recorded video by Ajit sharing anecdotes, particularly interesting.
Now, he is banking on this collaboration to get his daughter drawn to the game, so she can not only find a fun way to grasp concepts in mathematics but also discuss cricket with him.
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