Ashraf Iqbal

Title Teaching Calculus is like Designing a Game or Designing a Game means doing Calculus

Calculus is an important subject and field of study which is needed to understand and analyse situations in economics, health, medicine, psychology, sociology, engineering, animated multimedia design and so many other areas still unknown to mankind. There is serious problem in understating and appreciating the power of this subject and various reforms were being made in the US, India, and Israel to offset this limitation which creates fear in the minds of the learner and instead of looking at our short comings, we, the instructors of calculus, do a great damage by creating this widely spread notion: “I can not understand calculus because I am not a math guy”. Recent research in teaching calculus has shown that every child can study calculus and apply its tools to solve every day problems. The big question is how to make sure that every child “should” study calculus in spite of all the limitations of shortage of instructors, absence of infrastructure, and last but not the least the reluctance of the part of the school, college or university hierarchy to accept that the problem is there. In Israel, civil emergency was imposed not because of any law and order problem but because they think that they are far behind in teaching and understanding calculus. Rightly so they think that the survival of Israel depends on this very subject. Please see the box and it is evident how calculus is important for the survival of Israel. So the big question that we should explore in this paper is how to make sure that every child should study calculus, and should understand calculus. But in order to address that problem, we first need to understand what is wrong in teaching and learning calculus. In other words where the problem lies. Unless we pinpoint the disease and reason of that disease we cannot move an inch to solve this grand problem in Pakistan. Again in order to find the reason behind this malaise, we first need to know what calculus is all about and what is so special in calculus that it becomes extremely difficult to teach, understand and apply it in real world problems. So this paper first addresses the pedagogical problem hidden in the very fabric of calculus by first analysing what calculus is? Only then we shall think of solving the grand problem: How to make sure that each child in Pakistan should study calculus


M. Ashraf Iqbal is currently serving the Lahore Garrison University, Lahore. He was as a Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Information Technology at the University of Central Punjab, Lahore. He was a Fulbright research scholar at the University of Southern California from 1992-93. He has also worked as a DAAD research fellow at the Stuttgart Institute of Parallel and Distributed Computing and as a Research Assistant in ICASE, NASA Langley Research Centre, Hampton, Virginia. He started his career teaching electrical engineering at UET where he worked for almost 30 years, before moving to LUMS where, as the Head of the Computer Science Department, he started the doctoral programme with a focus on theoretical computer science and advanced applied research projects. He is well-known in the computer science community for his lectures on graph theory at the Virtual University. As his interest in the area of design for learning developed, he moved to NUST where he set up the MS programme in Innovation, Technology, Education, the first of its kind in Pakistan. Dr. Iqbal has also served as the Director of Namal College, Mianwali and the Rector of Ali Institute of Education. Presently, his work is focused on understanding how technology can be used to overcome learning problems with the mission “quality education for anyone, anywhere, anytime”. He is also the author of a book on Graph Theory and Algorithms (Google Books). Currently, he is writing a book on education, pedagogy and technology - exploring how the three blend to make a dramatic change. He is also a poet and a short story writer.