Monday, 5 May 2014

Teaching Mathematics

I had an interesting challenge from the teaching community for which I'm grateful. I want to thank the person for taking the time to share his/her views.

It was suggested the guide too easily calls the work children must do as "boring" and that this is unhelpful.

I agree we shouldn't disparage the hard work children must do to pick up the skills they'll need in later life. Multiplying out brackets is important. So is trigonometry.

But I think tihs challenge - gratefully received though it is - misses the point slightly. That the vast majority of people don't associate mathematics with words like "exciting", "beautiful", "surprising".

I was very lucky - extremely lucky - to have had some teachers and mentors who encouraged me to see beyond the rigmorale of mathematics as it was presented to me all those years ago - and to investigate genuinely cool things like fractals, chaos, the golden ratio and fibonacci series in nature and art, the mystery of prime numbers.

My challenge back is this - if you can make trigonomtry something truly exciting, and make matrix multiplication something children look forward to - then you're doing the right thing, and I have a lot to learn from you.

Sorry to but it so bluntly - but it is NOT good enough to drag the kids through the core material whether they like it or not. We can and must be more ambitious. The problem is not with kids not beign interested or appreciating mathematics. It is the teaching.