Category Archives: 3.1 Teaching & Learning

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).

Is maths creative?

Prior to the discovering maths elective, I would never have associated maths with the term ‘creative’. When thinking about this concept myself, I found it was only right to see if those around me shared my original thoughts, that maths is not creative. When surveying 10 of my friends and family, who have not taken part in the discovering maths elective, the results were as followed:

Yes – 2 votes

No – 8 votes

This shows a shared opinion that people around me would not view maths as creative. However, I now know, this is certainly not the case.

The National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Maths (2011) suggests that an understanding of shape is crucial to create art using mathematics. In our workshop we were asked to draw a face. As simple as this sounds, the majority of our class had the same response…laughter. Art is not a strong point of mine and after seeing my work, you too will agree. However, once we had drawn one portrait, it was obvious that we needed some guidance. This came in the form of maths. We next had the chance to follow specific mathematical instructions involving measurements and line to create another portrait of a man. This time a much more realistic and proportionate face was created. The difference in drawings is evidently huge as by considering scale, shapes and proportions, facial features became more accurate and thus more pleasing to the eye. Jonathan very kindly described my work as ‘a child’s drawing turned into a respectable one’.

Another form of art that is based upon maths is tessellation. Simplistically, Maths is Fun (2018), wrote that tessellation is where a surface is covered with a pattern of flat shapes that has no gaps or overlaps. This can be seen in bathroom tiling, brick walls and even on football. Additionally, when considering nature and how complex it can be, we must consider the underlying mathematics.

Above shows a honeycomb created by bees, which contains a perfect pattern of hexagons. This is a prime example of tessellation in our surroundings as bees create these nests.

I believe it is very important to emphasise to our future pupils that maths and art are so closely related. By making links to other curricular areas it shows clearly connectedness This is one of Ma (2010) fundamental principles of mathematics, that are of key importance throughout our module of discovering mathematics. Thus, I believe that maths being creative should be well known and explored within our classrooms.


Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and teaching elementary mathematics: teachers’ understanding of fundamental mathematics in China and the United States. Available at: (Accessed: 29 October 2018).

Maths is Fun (2018) Tessellation. Available at: (Accessed: 28 October 2018).

NCTEM Admin (2011) The Art of Mathematics. Available at: (Accessed: 29 October