Games hone skills

2015-04-30 16:57

PHUTHADITJHABA. – The indigenous African games can be used to teach mathematical problem-solving skills. This is according to a recent study of the University of the Free State (UFS).

The study by Mathematics Education lecturer at the Qwaqwa Campus, Dr Tshele Moloi, validates marginalised knowledge systems as well as cultural wealth of the African communities.

“The study shows that the background knowledge of children obtained from playing indigenous games is very effective in enhancing the understanding of abstract mathematical concepts, irrespective of their social class location,” Moloi, who has recently graduated with a PhD in Mathematics Education, said.

He said this study also emphasised the significant role played by parents and community members in the teaching and learning of problem-solving skills using indigenous games like diketo and morabaraba, to mention just a few.

“Diketo is a coordination game where ten small stones or marbles and one ghoen or big stone are made available for each player. A small hole of about 5 cm deep is dug in the ground where the small stones will be placed for the players. Boys and girls of different ages can play this game and only two players can play at a time.

“It is during this diketo game that learners can identify that there are variables involved X both independent and dependent variables,” he said.

Moloi said in round one of the game, it was noticed that the stones scooped out of the hole could be described by the pattern: = +, (where it denotes the throwing of the ghoen).

“Again, stones placed into the hole can be illustrated by the pattern: + 10, (where it denotes the throwing of the ghoen). There are lots of patterns that can be obtained when the player is in round two (seng two), et cetera.

“These patterns (which emanated from round one, two, three, et cetera) can be put on the Cartesian plane, which can then demonstrate the linear functions.”

The game of diketo, according to Moloi, helps to concretise concepts such as linear equations, conceptualisations of independent and dependent variables. Circles visualised in diketo can be arranged in such a way that it illustrates the area of the circle, gradient = .

On the other hand, the game of morabaraba (board game), which is played by two players at a time with each having 12 tokens known as “cows”, allows for a simplified lesson on area and perimeter of squares.

“The teacher can integrate geometry and algebra through the stuctural nature of morabaraba which may also help in simplifying concepts like probability and chance in data handling,” Moloi said

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