Category Archives: 2 Prof. Knowledge & Understanding

Should maths be taught inside the classroom?

Mathematics, from personal experience, is a subject I believed I would never need outside of school. Equations and formula’s were driven into my brain and were taught from a textbook. I certainly did not find it pleasurable, useful or important. Ma (2010, p. 104) wrote that basic ideas within mathematics are “simple but powerful basic concepts”. These concepts are ones like equations that are situated continuously throughout the curriculum. Until participating in this module, I myself had not valued the basic ideas within mathematics, that will in turn, prepare us for the future.

People with poor numeracy skills, (National Numeracy, 2018) are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. This figure is extremely high and leads to the question, why do so many Brits have such poor numeracy skills? Whilst on placement, I witnessed my class sigh or groan when I began to introduce a maths lesson. Of course there was a small handful who were happy (those who had a flair for the subject) but the majority were very unimpressed. They already at the young age of 10-11 associated maths with boring ‘textbook work’. Already, with a negative view on the subject, I knew this would not lead to positive results. This is something I immediately knew would be a challenge to tackle. Thus I decided to take an approach by using outdoor learning – hoping it may appeal more to the class who loved spending time outdoors.

Joyce (2012, p. 8) wrote that outdoor learning is “engaging children in meaningful first-hand experiences”. By gaining first-hand experiences, pupils are then able to take these on board and use again in the future. Supporting this, Coxhoe Primary School (2013) wrote that it is important to consider the necessary adaptions or changes that may be requires when teaching maths. This could evidently mean new methods of teaching style, such as outdoor learning are of benefit to pupils.

Vernon (2010) wrote that numeracy skills are taught better to over 18s when hands-on and not classroom based. This is significant as it highlights that adults do not find the typical teachings of mathematics beneficial. Alongside this, 1 in 4 adults in the UK (National Numeracy, 2018) say that school taught maths did not prepare them from everyday life. This is supported by Burns (2012) as millions of Brits struggle to read a bus timetable or pay a household bill. This is highly concerning and evidently shows that there is an issue with the way maths is being taught. Could outdoor learning be the answer to the problem?

The Curriculum for Excellence states that outdoor learning “encourages children and young people to make connections experientially, leading to deeper understanding within and between curriculum areas and meeting learner needs”. This links to Ma (2010) idea of connectedness as learning outdoors would highlight links to other curricular areas. Thus the idea of learning maths outdoors, could be highly beneficial as children could gain a new perspective of what they are studying, thus leading to a greater depth of knowledge.

Therefore overall, I believe that learning mathematics can be done in a huge number of ways. Of course there is benefits when teaching inside the classroom using textbooks and jotters, but there is a whole world around us, why not try and use it?

So, can we teach maths outside of a classroom? Of course we can!


Burns, J. (2012) Poor numeracy ‘blights the economy and ruins lives’. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2018).

Coxhoe Primary School (2013) Sustaining excellence in mathematics. Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2018).

Curriculum for Excellence Through Outdoor Learning (Learning and Teaching Scotland, 2010) Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2018).

Joyce, R. (2012) Outdoor learning: Past and Present. Berkshire: Open University Press.

Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics: teachers’ understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. New York: Routledge.

National Numeracy (2018) Why is Numeracy important? Available at: (Accessed: 16 November 2018).

Scientific Literacy and Education

During our science inputs with Richard, we were asked to work in groups of four to compose a short essay based on the title Scientific Literacy and Education. By following the criteria, this is what my group collectively wrote;

According to Blake (2017), Scientific literacy is the understanding of key scientific concepts and the knowledge of processes needed to make individual and personal decisions. The National Science Education Standards (1996) explains that the concept of scientific literacy highlights that an individual can ask and discover answers to questions resulting from general curiosity about everyday life experiences. Scientific literacy involves the ability to read and understand scientific articles in to engage in social conversation about the strength and validity of the conclusions. Therefore, Scientific literacy suggests that individuals are able to recognise scientific issues which lie beneath local and national decisions and express opinions that are scientifically informed. Thus, individuals can express their scientific literacy in many ways, for example by using technical terms or applying scientific concepts and processes.
Scientific illiteracy can result in inaccurate media reporting which can be believed and interpreted within our society. For example, for many years there has been a conspiracy that the flu vaccination gave people the cold or flu after they received the vaccination. The NHS (2016) have stated that the flu vaccine is the best protection we have against a virus that can cause unpleasant illness. Studies have shown that the flu jab will help prevent you getting the flu. It is not 100% guaranteed that you will be flu free, but if you do get the flu it will be milder and for a shorter period of time. It was reported by the Express Newspaper (2017) that people were hesitant to get the flu jab or didn’t get it at all due to fears of falling ill with the flu after being vaccinated, due to media headlines suggesting there was a link between the jab and the flu. However, the flu jab cannot give you the flu as it contains an ‘inactive’ form of flu which cannot give you the illness. It takes 10-14 days for the immune system to build up fully after the jab and the flu is much more than a heavy cold and patients need the vaccine every year in order to be protected. This is a recent but also ongoing example where lack of scientific literacy has led to inaccurate media reports.
Fair testing in primary school science links to scientific literacy because it means they are able to assess false or ‘adapted’ scientific facts from true scientific facts in the media and online. As said in (Introducing the National Science Education Standards, 1997) you need to have an awareness of science in the wider society. Therefore, teaching children the need for fair testing is so vital as it shows that you cannot just try something once and give up. You must try multiple times and reflect on the different outcomes. However according to (Maintaining curiosity A survey into science education in schools, 2013) it can be quite difficult to execute a very good science lesson in primary schools, so while some pupils might grasp the understanding of fair testing and how it relates to real life, not all pupils will. Although in conclusion fair testing in primary schools is a good way of getting children as young as four thinking about scientific concepts and finding ways of answering their own questions about the world using science.

Blake, C. (2017) Understanding Scientific Literacy. Available at: (Accessed: 08.02.18).
National Research Council. (1996) National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC. National Academy Press.
NHS. (2016) The flu jab. Available at: (Accessed: 7th February 2018).
Express Newspaper. (2017) Flu jab 2017: Can the vaccine give you cold or flu like symptoms? Available at: (Accessed: 7th February 2018
Introducing the National Science Education Standards (1997). Washington, DC: Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education, National Research Council, p. 22.
Maintaining curiosity A survey into science education in schools (2013). Manchester: Ofsted, pp. 12-16. Available at: (Accessed: 11 February 2018).


Resource allocation workshop reflection

In the workshop hosted by Derek, we were divided into 5 groups. Each group was given an envelope of resources, which we were told we should use to create a product for a new student attending Dundee University. I myself was in group 1, our pack was full of materials such as coloured pens, pencils, paper, paper clips and other stationary items. My group then easily had a discussion and decided to make a ‘student starter pack’ containing the following items:

  • A map of the Dalhousie building
  • A personalised timetable
  • A guide to DUSA (the Union)
  • Tips and tricks to survive University
  • A campus map
  • Simple recipes designed for students
  • A pencil cased packed with stationary
  • An events guide

As we ourselves are new students, we believed these items would be extremely beneficial(especially the Dalhousie map as we still do not know our way around!) and to our delight, Derek was very encouraging and praised our group for our organisation, good team work and well planned ideas as we showed the fellow class members our product. We assumed each group would have similar ideas and as group 2 presented they received similar praise as they too had numerous stationary items and ideas in their product.

However, as the other 3 groups began to present, we noticed they had less items to us, making it increasingly difficult for them to come up with an idea. Each group made the most of what they had (some as little as 3 items) and still managed to create a great product and present well. Derek did not take to the groups as well as he did to ours, as he seemed to lose interest and while the last group were presenting he was even checking his phone.

As I was in the group with the most resources, our team as a whole never realised the lack of support and praise the other groups were receiving, when in reality they had a more difficult situation and still managed to make a product successfully. Eventually it became clear to us as Derek explained that this activity was used to highlight the inequalities in society.

This workshop I feel was very important as in joining the teaching profession, we need to understand and be aware that every pupil will come from a different background and have different needs. Additionally, each school will be different and may not have the same resources, similar to each group in our class. This suggests to us that we will need to adapt our teaching methods to ensure each pupil feels included and equal to ensure they reach their full potential.

Derek held the workshop very well and I feel it was very valuable, thus I am looking forward to attending the ones in the future to continue to develop my understandings of the course and further my knowledge of the Values module.