There may be two types of backwardness:

  1. General backwardness, and
  2. Particular backwardness.


This means all-round backwardness. It is almost inherited and is due to a low I.Q. which may be between 50-70. We can at the most raise it by 7 or 8 points. The removal of this backwardness is a joint responsibility of all the teachers in the school. Of course, the mathematics teacher will be required to pay special attention in the case of his subject. If the case of the child is a hopeless one, it should be guided sympathetically to take to some manual type of vocation.


This is the case, which is backward in mathematics but fairly intelligent in other subjects. The child is otherwise intelligent, but is weak in mathematics. Removal of particular backwardness is easier than removal of general backwardness, because the former is a hopeful case. His being intelligent in other subjects, is a hopeful sign. His achievement in other subjects is a source of confidence and inspiration for him. This backwardness is the sole concern of the mathematics teacher. Acute cases may have to be treated in separate classes, whereas border cases may be tackled in the classroom itself.

Before adopting any means to remove the backwardness, the teacher must be clear about its causes which may be many.


  1. Physical causes: There may be some physical cause, such as poor eye-sight, defect in the hearing organ, stomach trouble, headache or any other physical ailment, which does not allow the child to concentrate on his studies. Mathematics needs special concentration. The remedy of almost all these causes lies with the doctor or physician, but some sort of physical exercise may also help the child. The teacher has to refer the child to the school doctor, some other medical expert or the school PTI according to the nature of the case. He has to try to make available all the possible remedies. If it is a case of serious physical deficiency, the teacher should try to persuade the parents to get their ward admitted to a special institution for the physically handicapped children of that type.
  2. Mental causes: The backwardness may be due to some mental causes. These causes may be inborn and/or environmental. The child may have low I.Q., some mental ailment, mental dissatisfaction, domestic problem, mental conflict, sense of insecurity, inferiority complex, lack of interest in mathematics or a dominant interest in something else. A case of simple mental problem can be tackled with some chances of success by the teacher. But complicated cases will have to be passed on to a psychologist or a psychoanalyst for thorough diagnosis and treatment. An attitude of love and sympathy and preparedness to help the children on the part of the teacher will always be helpful in the treatment of such cases.
  3. Distaste for the subject: A distaste for the subject may be another cause. This distaste may either be natural or acquired. If it is inborn, the teacher’s efforts may go waste. But if it is an acquired one, it may be mostly the teacher’s fault. If he fails to develop a feeling of attachment between the child and himself, the only outcome is the child’s distaste for the subject. Heaviness of the syllabus, toughness of the subject and difficulty of its problems tend to produce this distaste. A genuine taste for the subject will be developed through the teacher’s patience and persistence. He should never be in a hurry to pronounce case as hopeless and backward. He should never allow the idea ‘once backward always backward’ to enter his mind.
  4. Doubts about fundamentals: Sometimes the child develops some doubts about the fundamentals of the subject, and these doubts hinder his progress throughout. The teacher should be very careful while teaching these fundamentals. He should not hesitate to explain them over and over again if required. Only a clear understanding of these fundamentals can build a sound foundation for mathematical learning.
  5. Wrong influence of home: Influence of the home may also create distaste and backwardness. Some parents unintentionally provide negative suggestions to their children. Some of them are in the habit of saying that they never liked mathematics or they never wanted to study it, or were never able to pass in it or that failure in mathematics has been a tradition of their family. Even the educated parents commit such mistakes. These pronouncements are likely to have an adverse effect on the child’s attainment in the subject. Parents must be made conscious if this adverse effect and their duty in this manner.
  6. Teacher’s behavior: The teacher’s unbalanced behavior may also be one of the causes. If he is very lenient, some of the clever and mischievous students may get undue advantage of it and may become backward due to continuous inattention and non-seriousness. If he is very strict and gives heavy punishment unsparingly, some of the feeble-minded students may get disheartened and discouraged. They may start disliking the teacher and consequently the subject. The teacher should never forget that his behavior is very important.
  7. Mid session changes: The change of school or even the change of teacher may not suit some of the students. Whenever the change of school is unavoidable, the parents and the teachers have to remain on guard till the child’s complete adjustment with the change. Changing the teacher in the middle of a session should be avoided as far as possible.
  8. Teacher’s reputation: The subject teacher’s bad reputation in the school and neighbourhood may also affect some of the students adversely. The teacher must earn respect and reputation. He should be a source of inspiration for his students in every respect. He should carefully maintain his scholarship and character.
  9. Apathy towards method: A part of the students’ apathy towards the teacher’s most favourite method of teaching may result in their backwardness. The teacher should not always stick to the same method. Students like ‘newness and novelty’. The teacher should always be prepared to adjust his method to the learner’s likes. He may have to devote extra time and attention to the student who is lagging behind. Slow learner deserves the teacher’s individual attention and help. The teacher should so conduct himself that the slow learners never feel that they are being disowned or being left behind.
  10. Lack of practice: Of these students, some may need more practice and drill than others. The teacher should not overlook their need. The intelligent one may pick up an idea after solving only one problem, whereas the slow learner may need solving two or three problems to grasp it. The teacher has to adopt a via-media.
  11. Neglect of home work: When the child does not get sufficient time at his home for home work, he is likely to lag behind. Regularity in home work should be ensured. The parents should give full cooperation to the teacher in this regard.
  12. Irregular attendance: If the child remains unavoidably irregular or absent for a long time, there are chances of his falling a prey to backwardness. The facility of extra-coaching for sometime should be provided to such students so that they can fill up their gaps and catch up with other class-fellows. Such temporarily backward students should not be left to themselves. The provision of extra-classes made in most of the schools near the examination, enables many backward students to get through.
  13. Defective handwriting: Defective hand at writing and geometrical constructions may be the cause of unsatisfactory performance in certain cases. Their weakness does not therefore pertain to mathematics. The cooperation of language teacher may be sought in their case. The teacher should make it a point to insist on neatness of hand and construction in such cases.
  14. Examination system: Faulty examination system may also cause non-seriousness and backwardness among some students. If passing in mathematics is not compulsory at the time of passing the final examination, some students may ignore this subject. Therefore it should be treated as a compulsory in this respect.


Published by rkdskool

I am working in the field of education for more than 15 years. I teach Math. Presently I'm Working as the vice principal in reputed School.

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