Topic – world cup (2010) and Brazil (2011)

I can still remember to this day having some of the most fun I ever had at school learning about topic!

In 2010 our Topic was the World cup ! This was such an amazing topic and something a totally football daft me absolutely loved ! I remember writing a news paper report about the new stadiums in south africa and of course, the vuvuzela and whether or not they should be banned in stadiums.

My teacher obviously noticed how engaged the class were with this topic and so began to relate a large majority of our class lessons to the world cup. I remember playing football in PE and being given the role of captain of Ghana, I felt a real sense of pride (I was 10 okay this was a BIG deal, even if it was just pretend!). I remember being genuinely excited to participate in activities that if they were stand alone lessons  I would not of enjoyed. For example art was not my strong point and still to this day is something I struggle with. However we held a world cup fare in the gym hall and we sold many of the arts and crafts we made in class to parents and guardians of pupils at our school. I remember working so hard on making a book mark with the Ghana flag on it (and i mean working hard I practiced this flag for ages to make it the best I possibly could to be sold at this fare). It was such an amazing topic and our teacher really took advantage of the classes engagement and created World Cup math challenges for us to do that were related to the work we were doing in class  (very sneaky I know!).

We started this topic near the end of the school year as the world cup started on the 11th of June 2010. It was an amazing topic and will be something that I will never forget!

Our learning about the world cup in P6 really led on nicely to our Topic in P7…….Brazil

This year for me was one of the most memorable as it was the first time I was ever taught by a male teacher (and what a teacher he was!) . Mr Findlay was such an amazing teacher he was fun, he was funny, he was fair and he cared about us as individuals. I remember him gathering us around the carpet and telling us that he had heard wonderful things about our topic work last year and said he knew that the world cup was going to take place in Brazil in 2014. He said that Brazil was notorious for football and totally had me engaged from the offing. I remember Mr Findlay allowing me to demonstrate my football skills to the class that I had learnt at FDS (A brazilian soccer school).

A lot of our class work was related to brazil which was brilliant! It was such an interesting topic and allowed us to explore many curricular areas. We spoke about the amazon rainforest (Enviromental science), we learnt about football and volleyball in gym (Physical Education), We wrote report as about the amazon rainforest and discussed the monument in Rio as well as creating our own art work for our wall display. This led to one of my proudest Primary School memories……


On the final day of our topic the Head Teacher came into class and picked a piece of art on our wall display to get a prize. I had only two pieces of art up on the wall and did not expect to win but I did!  The Head teacher said she loved my picutre of the beach and could see that  I worked really hard on it. I actually won a Brazil football t shirt and I was so happy I wore it too football training that night!


I really enjoy teaching children about topic as I feel it adds context for their learning. In addition to this it also engages them as they do not always realise until you highlight it to them that they are learning about for example maths or comprehensive skills. I think it is a great way to engage children and positively impacts their learning experiences at schools. I hope someday that I can ensure that pupils have a positive experience in their topic learning (and learning in general) as I  was really lucky to have such a positive topic learning experience when I was at school.





workload wages and woe

In 2015 I decided i was going to write my Higher portfolio piece about a group of professionals  i believed to be hugely undervalued by society….. teachers. i wanted my teachers especially Miss Duncan to see how much i valued everything that they did not only for me but everyone at the school.  So here it is the moment i am sure you have all been eagerly waiting for, my fifth year higher English essay entitled “Workload Wages and Woe”.

Workload, Wages and Woe,

How many movies have you watched where the theme of the story revolves around an outstanding teacher turning around the life of an under-achieving student through their inspirational teaching? Ask any parent what the most important factor is when choosing a school for their precious offspring and the answer, undoubtedly, would be the quality of a school’s teaching staff. It is this essential ingredient that is crucial to the potential life-changing decision pupils have to make. Parents want their children to experience the best education possible. Why else would affluent parents be willing to pay considerable sums of money to privately educate their children? In today’s competitive dog-eat-dog world, educational success and qualifications can mean the difference between successfully securing a university or college place, leading to employment as opposed to joining the army of claimants waiting in line for their turn to sign on at the benefit office or stacking the shelves at their local supermarket. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, agrees that the education of the younger generation is pivotal to the continuing success of our nation. So why do we still continue to pay teachers considerably lower salaries than other professionals?

There are many who argue that there are other “perks” to this career path and the people who choose this profession are fully aware of the salary scale prior to embarking on their career. Critics cite that no other profession has the luxury of a six week break during the summer months as well as a full two weeks “off” to enjoy both the Christmas and Easter celebrations. In addition to the holiday entitlement comes a shorter working day, a final salary pension, job security and a wealth of opportunities to choose from. They argue that No other degree or post-graduate course offers a guaranteed paid work placement for a year after graduation and therefore a guaranteed employment history to add to a CV. Sounds like the dream job?

The reality of life at the “chalk face” is, however, very different. In the challenging society we live in today, teaching is a difficult, demanding and, at times, dangerous job which all too often passes without appreciation and, as present salary levels confirm, totally undervalued. Whilst school walls provide the environment where lessons are delivered, it is mostly at home, in the evenings, at weekends, and during the school holidays that these lessons are planned and prepared. It is public knowledge that teachers’ contracts state a thirty five hour working week versus the usual forty hours for other workers. Yet a survey of 3500 primary teachers, who had to record hours of work over a two week period, revealed that the average teacher actually works forty six and a half hours per week. The union has described the workload as “unsustainable”. Perhaps this explains why it has been stated that Scotland has a “chronic” shortage of teachers? In non-teaching positions, full-time workers can leave work in the office and not have to take it home with them. Yet a teacher is still marking and preparing for the next day’s lesson every evening at home. Moreover, the “overtime work” is unpaid and not accounted for. Imagine if your employer asked you to work overtime (an extra day and a half a week) but then added in the fact that you would not be recompensed for it. I am quite sure that other professions would feel aggrieved and resentful. Yet this is a regular occurrence in the teaching profession.


It has recently been declared by the Scottish government that literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing are the responsibilities of all teachers.  people with poor numeracy skills are twice as likely to be unemployed that those who are competent with numbers, this puts a massive amount of pressure on teachers to ensure that all their pupils have a basic understanding of numeracy and are comfortable using numbers. By ensuring that their students are proficient at maths it does not only allow them to further their studies in education but it also makes them more likely to get an affluent job which in turn should have a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

Along with being responsible for literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing, John Swinny has stated that his main focus is for teachers to close the attainment gap within social classes. This is an challenge as we live in a far more diverse world, where people from all different back grounds attempt to undertake examinations. With a


The self-fulfilling prophecy is another issue that teachers need to overcome how many people have said to their children “I wasn’t good at maths so I don’t expect you to be “lucky for me I never heard this as both my parents are bankers. However for a child to hear this it can been detrimental to their confidence and can result in lower achievement rates. it is then declared the responsibility of teachers to redirect children’s attitude towards maths and to inc===


Indeed, school teachers are highly trained and are required to undertake a minimum of four years of studying in order to achieve the qualifications necessary to teach. Yet comparative careers such as banking can pay up to twenty thousand pounds a year as a starting salary which rapidly increases to a staggering wage of seventy two thousand pounds per annum, and in some cases even more. This often does not even include guaranteed bonuses which can vary from ten percept of the annual salary to around twenty five percent. This is just simply obscene when a teacher’s starting salary is a mere £21,867, and only expected to rise to £34,887 per annum at the top of the scale. It is grossly unfair that teachers are not financially rewarded when they are the people at the heart of the future enhancing the prosperity of this nation. What is more important: the future generation or bank balances?

The dangers teacher’s faces are evident as a recent incident, at a school in Aberdeen, shows. A young boy was stabbed by a peer and tragically died. This incident should never have occurred in a place which is meant to be a sanctuary. This shows the reality of the type of incidents that teachers can end up having to face. Similarly, teachers are now expected to deal with increasingly complex issues in the classroom and are expected to attend training sessions with Mental Health Professionals so that they have the necessary skills to deal with the multitude of issues faced by today’s teens. This piles more and more pressure on tired teachers who have to deal with complex issues. This is simply outrageous. It has recently been revealed that one in ten children have a form of mental health issue which is especially worrying when it is reported that these statistics are rocketing. I understand that something has to be done to prevent these issues from spiralling out of control but surely these responsibilities should not be forced upon teachers. I understand we need to keep the best intentions of the pupils in mind but what about the teachers; do they not matter? Whilst a pupil is at school, their safety is not the responsibility of their parents or guardians but, with the implementation of the GIRFEC initiative, the responsibility of their Pupil Care and Support Teachers. This enforces a massive responsibility on teachers. Why? Why give one person the overall responsibility of looking after two hundred children? This is surely an impossible task for anyone, looking after twenty children at once is hard enough but imagine having that responsibility ? If you take your eye off a problem or miss something in their behaviour and it ends in tragedy, it all falls back on that one teacher. Would you like to be the one left dealing with the aftermath of that?

Therefore, it is clear that teachers are not correctly compensated for the position of responsibility they hold. What other profession puts someone in charge of over twenty vulnerable young people at a time? Moreover, what other profession leaves a person with the future of our nation in their hands? This is exactly what teachers deal with, day in, day out. Without the correct influences the future of our nation is bleak. Now going back to the perks of this vocation, surely this “dream job” seems more of a nightmare.





Teaching posts remain empty as schools return

Council chiefs: Scotland has ‘chronic shortage’ of teachers



Think 182

Prior to studying discovering mathematics I believed maths to be only about numbers. However following the module, I now understand it is much more than that, it is everything and it is definitely an art form. Mathematics is prominent in many aspects of music such as beats in a bar , notation value ie crotchets and semi quavers etc, tempo and in tablature, the list is infinite.

For those who are unfamiliar with tablature or tab it is a form of musical notation that refers to instrument fingering rather than musical pitches (big guitar , no Date) . For example:




This picture shows musical notation indicating pitch and so requires the guitarist to know where each note is represented on the guitar fret. However the bottom line is the tabs. Tablature tells the individual where to put their fingers so the first note would be open first string as it tells the reader no fingers on fret but to play open first string once, the second note would then be first finger first fret first string played once.



I used to believe those who played tablature to play music were much like artist whos work was made using dot to dot. I didn’t think it required much if any understanding of music. However I recently decided to try playing tab and I think it is possibly the best decision I have made in terms of my musical progression. I already had a conceptual understanding of music or so I believed I recently tried to learn hotel California on guitar however there are quite a lot of sharps and flats in the music and I was struggling to remember it all so I tried using tabs and found it be alot easier. I didn’t need to keep reminding myself where the sharps were as the notation told me where to put my fingers. I learnt to play the song reasonably quick after this I just needed to perfect the pace.  Which brings me to my next point; pacing.


A disadvantage of tablature is that because there is no notes without truly knowing the song or understanding the notation above it indicating the pitch you have no way of determining the speed of the song or the dynamics (how loud a note is played) . However, as I learned to play music before I did tablature I used the notations to help me determine the speed of the song. I also knew that by looking at the start of the music where it tells me how loud to play the song using something I believe could be defined as algebra.



These letters represent more than just their face value they dictate a song massively (Angela ,2018). I believe that the understanding and appreciation of pupils learning about dynamics will increase their appreciation of the beauty of algebra.

In addition to this I used to believe that the f note was first finger first string just because it just was however after comparing the notation to the tablature I noticed the links between the two. I used to wonder why the  g note  was third finger first fret first string and not first finger second fret first string after all G does follow F in the alphabet ?  Tablature has helped me understand by comparing the two it is because there is a semi tone between f and g which Is f sharp and that Is why the second threat first string is f sharp not g.


So this begs the question so what?


I believe that by learning tablature my horizons have been broadened in terms of music as having an understanding of both tablature and notation I have developed a conceptual understanding of music, understanding not only the how but also the why of music. Learning music through the use of numbers have furthered my understanding of a mathematician and a musician and I would love for pupils in my future classes to have the opportunity to experience this and so I will to the best of my abilities ensure I teach maths and music together in hope that both experiences are enlightening and enjoyable for pupils.


my sixth year personal essay

Following an input on attribution theory i was reminded of my personal essay that I  wrote for my advanced higher English portfolio. The essay was completely my own and i did not allow for any of my teachers to see it until the day before it was meant to be turned in. I wanted it to be completely my own.  I hope you enjoy reading it.


P3r50na1 355ay


“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
Nelson Mandela


School life has not always been easy for me; I guess you could describe me as a “late bloomer”. Personally, I do not believe this to be representative as I feel that no-one should define which stage a child should be, or indeed when, in their development. We are all individuals who mature, learn and process information at different rates. From an early age, it was apparent that I struggled with English, especially reading, and as a result of this I was stuck into the euphemistically named “Red Group” which even my slightly naïve eight year old self could work out was the dreaded…bottom group. Even though I coped with the demands of working out the three bold words on the page using the pictures as clues, simply being in the bottom group shattered my confidence, leading me to believe, that I was one of the “dunces”.


Never making it out of the Red Group throughout my entire seven years of primary school left me believing that I was less intelligent than the other children in my class. Due to this internal belief, the consequences were demonstrated externally. The mere thought of having to answer a simple question in front of the class would result in the feeling that my heart would leap out of my chest. The endless silence followed by a sea of little eager faces awaiting a response was too much to bare. I developed extreme anxiety about answering questions in class – not because I wasn’t willing to offer a response but simply because I feared getting the answer wrong and confirming my class mates’ beliefs that I was vacuous.


High School; a fresh start. An opportunity to shrug off the label that had been assigned to me in primary school. An opportunity to rise above the mediocre expectations that had been set for me. Unfortunately, I was terrified of my own shadow back then so the thought of shrugging off and rising above anything was going to be quite the task. I was intimidated by the stature of the school and those around me, thankfully I had someone, other than my really embarrassing older sister, to look out for me. I was firstly introduced to my Guidance Teacher, Miss Duncan. I did not know it at the time, but later on in my school career, she would become the most influential factor in my decision to become a teacher.


I found it difficult at first to acclimatise to my new school environment. I was not used to travelling from class to class, and as a result of this I found organising my school work to be a challenge. I was placed in a small class with another twenty pupils. It became apparent to me that we had an extra teacher in the room. At the start, this did not bother me as I really enjoyed having someone else to talk to and having someone who would help me with my organisational skills, whilst also aiding me in attempting to conjure up a Victoria sponge cake in Home Economics; which, to this day, I still require assistance to make. It soon became apparent to me that this teacher was in class specifically to see if I was coping with the demands of the school work, specifically in English.


Shortly after my arrival at high school, I was tested for Dyslexia. The results came back positive. Word soon spread through my English class, as I began to arrive to class with the dreaded “Alpha Smart” which was basically a glorified calculator but for words instead of numbers. I did not mind people knowing I was dyslexic but what I did mind was the constant questions. Can you spell this? Can you read this? And the worst of all – it’s not fair, why does Cameron get to use the computer? I decided that the best way to stop these questions was simply not to use my Alpha Smart anymore. I viewed the Alpha Dumb as an opportunity for my peers to re-label me as the class “dunce” rather than a way to aid me in my studies. I decided that the best way to get people to stop speaking to me as if I was inferior to them was to beat them at their own game. I set myself the goal of being the best English student in my year. No mean feat for a boy who needed a sheet of yellow film to stop the words from jumping off the page. Aspirational, huh?


At the start of third year, I was placed in a new English class and, for the first time ever, the top set. I had finally reached the pinnacle of my school career. I dreams and aspirations had finally been fulfilled. I was still rather shy, so I sat at the back of the class in order to avoid drawing attention to my presence. I had a severe case of Imposter Syndrome: an inability to internalise my accomplishments; and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. I kept waiting for the Head of English to come and drag me, literally and metaphorically, back down to the bottom class. The teacher arrived; silence fell. We all knew Miss Duncan was someone that you did not wish to get on the wrong side of but I had always had a good relationship with her. She noticed immediately that I was sat at the back of the class in the left hand corner, and she offered me a re-assuring smile. Her belief in me sparked my love for the subject. Despite the protestations of the class, we studied Shakespeare, more specifically we studied the Scottish play “Macbeth”. I instantly fell in love with the play, not just for its storyline but for the way we were taught it. Miss Duncan showed me that words have a deeper meaning than what is first presented. Miss Duncan and I became close and I aspired to be like her, as she presented herself to me not only as a teacher but also as a friend. We shared many similar interests not only our love for English but we are both also “die hard” Manchester United and Dundee Football Club supporters. I would hang back and speak to Miss Duncan at the end of every English period. This was five minutes where I could have a conversation with someone without feeling like my views and opinions were invalid. This helped me grow in confidence and enhanced my academic abilities, as I had finally found someone who had faith in my abilities.


In order to repay Miss Duncan for the support and guidance she had given me for all of third year. I began to make essay plans for my upcoming third year exams and studied two hours a night for two weeks. I sat the exam and got full marks on my “Macbeth” essay. Whilst many believe it is simply third year tests that do not count towards anything. I believe the opposite these tests that “ meant nothing”, meant everything to me as it was the first time I had seen myself progress and it also gave me an opportunity to prove to Miss Duncan that all the time and dedication she had spent on me had paid off.


Due to the result I got in my third year exams, and also the guidance given to me by Miss Duncan, I began to become more confident in my work and also within myself. I became more sociable and now had the confidence to put up my hand in class without fear of being subjected to ridicule by my fellow classmates. Luckily for me, Miss Duncan was my teacher in both fourth and fifth year. During my fifth year at school, I ensured that my love and enthusiasm for English did not fade, even though my peers had become increasingly distracted by other aspects of their lives. I continued to work extremely hard and pushed myself to the limits, something that previously I would not have done. My prelim results were a testament to my hard work as I was later presented with the English Dux medal as I had received the highest mark in the year; ninety per cent to be exact. And whilst many people have attributed “Dyslexia” as the reason they did not succeed in school, I have found the complete opposite to be true. I have used the diagnosis of Dyslexia as a catalyst for my success. I refused to be defined by my disability. Having a learning disability, only too often, can lead to a lack of faith in them to do well. This contributes to the self-fulfilling prophecy. Most people are unaware that Dyslexia is not solely about having difficulty with spelling and reading but it also affects time management skills, brain processing and organisational skills. Whilst these seem like negatives, people with dyslexia are actually more inclined to being able to see the bigger picture and allow them to think outside the box. I believe this enhanced my abilities and allowed me to progress further in English.


As I matured and began to consider my options for the future, I looked at those around me for inspiration. I was unsure about my future aspirations, I had previously desired to be an accountant; I probably only wanted to be an accountant as the lavish lifestyle and extraordinary high annual salary seemed appealing. But life as an accountant was harder than I first believed. I acquired work experience at Murray Taylor accountancy firm in Arbroath. What can I say? The dry lifeless office environment is not for everyone, and is certainly not me. After endless months of procrastination, I finally set my goal of being a primary school teacher. However, in order to do this I knew that I would require valuable work experience at a primary school. I arranged to do this experience at Longhaugh Primary School at Whitfield in Dundee. This is one of Dundee’s most deprived districts and at first I was hesitant to go as I feared the pupils would be too challenging and would put me off wanting to be a teacher. However, they did the complete opposite. I learnt valuable lessons whilst at Longhaugh; the kids there were inspirational, the level of poverty was incredible, yet these children would still continue to come to school and do their very best to ensure that, when they are older, they will not have to continue to live like this. I formed many strong friendships and relationships with the children whilst at Longhaugh. During my time there, I had learnt the true meaning of being a teacher, it wasn’t about the pay cheque at the end of the month or ensuring a child was a straight ‘A’ student. It was about making a child feel needed and wanted and to instil in them the belief that they can be whoever they want to be regardless of their background and certainly regardless of any learning difficulty that they may have. Due to my experience at Longhaugh, my desire to have a “monumental” impact on someone’s life has become my new goal.


Counting down to my last few weeks of school, I occasionally imagine what life will be like out with the constraints of the school gates. A life where I no longer need to follow the “one way system” as I am now free to determine my own journey. A life where I no longer have to utter the question “Please Sir, may I go to the toilet?” A life where I am free to be whoever I want to be, without fear of being judged by others. I also wonder what will become of me and my friends. Will we still remain in contact even though we are no longer available cell mates, confined within the breeze blocks of the classroom walls? Whilst the future may be unclear and frightening, I am without doubt excited to see what the future holds for me. Will I be someone Miss Duncan’s? I strongly believe that being a teacher is about more than ensuring your pupils get the results required to go to university but it is more about ensuring each and every pupil meets their full potential. Despite a rocky start, my overall experience of education has been positive. Even though there have been many obstacles to overcome, I know that without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. And now those same pupils no longer ask can you spell this? or can you read this? They now ask me did you get the English Dux medal? or can I have your essay plans, please? How ironic, I say. “what’s that?”  they ask. And I laugh.


Linears , subtractions and fractions oh Pi!

What is the most terrifying thing you can think?  Common answers may include spiders, heights or horror movies, but what about mathematics?  Many professionals such as Boaler (2009) believes that children find maths fearful. Why is this? Is that just the way it is to be? are people just meant to be afraid of numbers? Or are we doing something wrong?


Maths anxiety comes in many forms and is experienced differently by each person suffering what could be described widespread epidemic. Arem (2010) believes that maths anxiety can cause headaches, sweating, confusion and the inability to concentrate.


So why does this maths anxiety exist?


Many professionals such as Hembree (1990) believes that maths anxiety is defined as a general fear of mathematics.  Why is this allowed to occur? If children experienced this feeling whilst studying any other curricular area it would be pandemonium. So why is little being done to help children overcome this widespread epidemic in schools ? Furthermore, the Scottish government (2009) believe that the most common form of mathematical activity in the classroom is based on pupils using textbooks and working in silence and independently (Scottish Government, 2009). To this day I still remember the feeling of working from textbooks and not for the right reasons, it is the most mind numbing soul-destroying type of work I have ever done. I believe it is our responsibility as teachers to help children develop the notion that maths is fun , enjoyable and most importantly something they are comfortable and good at tackling.


I recently stubbled across a poem that I believe represents what the communication of mathematics is like for some people.


The two dead boys

  1. One fine day in the middle of the night,
    Two dead boys got up to fight,
    3. Back to back they faced each other,
    4. Drew their swords and shot each other,

    5. One was blind and the other couldn’t, see
    6. So they chose a dummy for a referee.
    7. A blind man went to see fair play,
    8. A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”

    9. A paralysed donkey passing by,
    10. Kicked the blind man in the eye,
    11. Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
    12. Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

    13. A deaf policeman heard the noise,
    14. And came to arrest the two dead boys
    15. If you don’t believe this story’s true,
    16. Ask the blind man he saw it too!


Whilst this poem is purposely meant to be contradictory. I believe this is how some people see the learning of mathematics. For example, I remember as a child being told that when I multiply by 10 I simply add a zero to my answer. However I was extremely puzzled as to why 1.4 x 10  does not equal  1.40, even though I had been told specifically all I had to do was add a zero. Obviously, I soon learned that when multiplying by ten I move the decimal point one space to the right and when dividing I move it to the left. That’s no big deal to someone who enjoyed learning mathematics. I understand we learn from our mistakes,  but for someone who already has negative associations with maths and finds it confusing it adds additional stress and furthers their negative attitude.



Moreover the understanding of mathematics is crucial Erickson (2008) believes that as conceptual understanding decreases pupils begin to lose interest in maths . So what is conceptual understanding and how do we allow pupils to obtain this ? conceptual understanding is defined by Ben-Hur, (2006)  as a knowledge rich understanding . Therefore it is important that as teachers we ensure that our pupils develop a conceptual understanding of mathematics which will then hopefully enable them to enjoy mathematics and study maths progressively throughout there school career.



To whoever is reading this blog. I usually end my blog posts with a conclusion as to what I will do next to progress, However one of the main points I have taken from the discovering mathematics module is that it is not what I am going to do next but more what we can do next. Everyone is learning and developing as professionals and if everyone works together to ensure a pleasant and enjoyable experience for pupils whilst studying maths and every subject for this matter then pupils will enjoy coming to school and maths anxiety will cease to exist. I believe this to also be an important message to leave for pupils. It is not what I will do as a future teacher to help my pupils overcome maths anxiety but what we all can do to help each other in our learning.


Arem, C. (2010). Conquering math anxiety. Australia: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.


Ben-Hur, M. (2006). Concept-rich mathematics instruction. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


Boaler, J. (2009). The elephant in the classroom. London: Souvenir.

Scottish Government (2009) 2008 Scottish Survey of Achievement: Mathematics and Core Skills. Available online at: [Accessed 3rd September 2015


Hembree, R. (1990) ‘The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety’, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, pp.33-46 (2018). Two dead boys got up to fight. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1


Can mathematics be used to allow pupils to explore the world around them and even the entire universe? We often tell our pupils to aim for the stars, but would this metaphor be even more effective if pupils knew exactly how far away these stars actually are?  Many young children I spoke to on placement told me that when they grew up they wanted to be astronauts. However amongst the children that told me this many said they did not like mathematics. Astronomy is a subject that fascinates and engages people of all ages. The idea of an infinite number of galaxies and other planets is extremely interesting.  So can we captivate children’s interest by showing them that within astronomy there is not only an infinite universe to explore but also mathematics? Can we as professionals show children that Space like everything has a story and show them that within this story there is mathematics.


The majority of people are aware that there are many stars in the universe (about ten thousand million million million stars or 10^22).  Numbers are extremely prevalent in space and astronomy and this allows for discussion opportunities with children so that they do not even realise they are doing mathematics. This therefore allows  them to experience maths in a different way that isn’t just from textbooks and is fun engaging and most importantly something they actually can enjoy doing . Boaler (2010) believes that children find mathematics to be boring ,scary and uninteresting. This attitude is vastly spread throughout Scotland It is often referred to as maths anxiety. I argue partially it exists as a result of many children  not being taught that mathematics is more than just numbers.  Mathematics to me is a story told in a variety of different ways. A story communicated in a secret language that is waiting to be decoded with understanding and equations.  Children are constantly trying to decode the world around them why not show them how to do this using mathematics?


In addition to this another example of mathematics in astronomy is a light year; this refers to the distance that light can travel in a year. Light travels at 3.8 x 10^8  metres per second  and there are 365 days in a year,  However  before we do our equation we must first ensure we are using the same units.  we can do this by working out how many seconds there are in a year

365 x 24 (hours in a day) x 60( minutes in an hour)  x 60  (seconds in a minute)

= 31, 536,000

Following this we then use the distance speed and time formula we teach in schools


d = s/t

substitute in

3.8 x 10^8 x 31, 536,000

9,460,000,000,000 kilometres


Therefore light travels 9,460,000,000,000 kilometres in a year.

This concept alone incorporates many of the mathematical concepts covered in the mathematics curriculum for example measurement , distance speed and time,  decimals etc . Hopefully children will be able to form links between what they have learnt in mathematics and see the relevance of it.


To conclude I believe that astronomy offers children with an amazing opportunity to explore mathematics in a completely unique and fun way. I believe it offers a rich and diverse range of  mathematics such as measurement , distance, speed, time and multiplication and many more. Arem(2010) believes that children have the right to enjoy mathematics and question why we do things in maths. He believes that by allowing this we can help children overcome maths anxiety. Therefore I believe it is extremely important to use astronomy to assist children overcome maths anxiety. The universe has so much to offer and will continue to be explored by many for hundreds even thousands of years I know for certain it is something that I look forward to exploring with my class both in relation to the science and  maths behind it.



Arem, C. (2010). Conquering math anxiety. 3rd ed. Australia: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

Boaler, J. (2010) The elephant in the classroom: Helping children learn and love maths. London: Souvenir Press.

Was the Criticism the 2015 higher maths paper faced justifiable

When I was in fifth year at High School in 2016 I studied higher mathematics and the legacy left behind by the terrifying 2015 Higher Mathematics paper still lingered throughout the school and to a vast extent the entire country.


With all the stigma circulating around the paper I decided to look at it, to see exactly what it was that was responsible for the social media revolution against the SQA. I read the questions and thought to myself if I was in the shoes of the pupils who sat this exam I would have been horrified to be faced with this paper. The exam was “wordy” and didn’t specifically tell you what you had  to do or what formula to use. It instead required you to demonstrate your understanding of the content of the Higher Mathematics course to try and solve the problem and to figure out which equations you needed to use. Looking at this now from a different perspective, I believe that the way most pupils were taught was through relational understanding this, is when the pupils know a process and how to use it but not why it is used. As a result of this they have difficulty in answering questions that do not tell them what process to use or say a question in an unfamiliar way. However, there is also conceptual understanding   and I believe that pupils who scored well in this paper had a conceptual understanding of mathematics meaning that they understood not only the how but also the why of mathematics and as a result of this they knew exactly how to apply it even when it wasn’t completely obvious and required them to problem solve.


As someone who needs to know why we are doing a certain process in maths I recently looked over the paper again and thought to myself yet again. If I was faced with this in an exam situation I would be panicked. However as a result of the understanding I have now developed through studying the why and not just the how of mathematics, I think I would of scored reasonably well. Looking at the paper from a different perspective as a student teacher rather than as a pupil I now believe that the SQA had the right idea. The majority of people on the (MA) Education course  concurred in a lecture that they wished the education system was designed to enhance the understanding  of the subjects  studied and not just about remembering processes in order to pass exams. So as I look at the paper now keeping these desired motifs of education in mind I would now deem the paper as an ideal paper for meeting this criteria. Whilst I agree it was a difficult paper to sit, especially as it was the first year of the new Higher paper, it actually requires pupils to have an indepth understanding of mathematical processes and I believe that is what we want our pupils to develop, the skillset to do.


To conclude I believe that the Higher Maths paper of 2015 was significant in highlighting that as a nation our pupils do not have a conceptual understanding of mathematics and therefore when they are faced with problems where they are required to think about what they are doing, then they struggle. In my opinion this does not equip pupils with the skills they need for work. So how do we move forward? I have used the dreaded exam paper as a rational behind my future way of teaching mathematics, I am not going to rush pupils through work just, so I can tick off the boxes in the CFE experience and outcomes. Instead I am going to spend the time to allow my pupils to develop not only the how’s but also the whys of mathematics. This in turn I believe will change pupils out look of mathematics as it will make more sense to them and will hopefully result in them studying maths further along their education journey and thus further prepare them for the world of work and daily life.



 Ali, A. (2018). Exam board admits Higher Maths exam was ‘too hard’. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 29 Sep. 2018].


Skemp, R. (2009). The Psychology of Learning Mathematics. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.


reflection on first year

My first year at university has been a great year for reflection. I feel that I have invested great thought and effort into deciding my professional and personal values and these values I believe have shaped me not only as the teacher I want to be but also the man I want to be.


At the start of placement, I was worried that my behaviour management would not be up to the mark and so thought the best way to make my presence known was to be very strict and “scary”. Whilst I believe being strict is important to show the class you are not a “push over” at the start of placement I felt I was being too distant with the children for the first few days and did not interact with the pupils as much as I could have. However, on the third day I began to talk to pupils more about their lives in and out of school and we soon developed mutual respect for one and other and this in turn had a huge impact on behaviour within the classroom. I was so happy that my class knew we were friendly but were not friends and respected me as their teacher but still felt they could talk to me about anything and without being judged. This helped to develop my confidence and I began to love doing class lessons and interacting with everyone in the school both students and staff.


Whilst I was on placement I believe I learnt a great deal about myself not only as a teacher but also as a person. To begin with I was very nervous about doing my own class lesson and turning the theory we have been learning about in class into practice. However, after a few class lessons I began to become more confident in my ability and allowed for my personality to shine through, this enabled me to develop a strong relationship with my class. This was a huge stepping stone in my professional career as to begin with I just wanted to ensure the children were learning about academic subjects, however within a few days of placement I began to focus more on the relationships I was beginning to develop as well as equipping the pupils with the essential academic and personal skills they will need for life and work. This to me is what teaching is all about; the relationships we build and the lasting impact we can have on pupils in our class no matter how small the positive impact is it could have huge implications on the child and we may not even know it! I grew in confidence as a result of these professional relationships I had developed with pupils and teachers, and I feel this impacted on my teaching massively.


In conclusion whilst my class were challenging I loved every minute of teaching them and this was to me is the most important thing I learnt in the entire year: even though teaching is difficult and there are bad days it is by far the best job in the world and I cannot wait to have my own class someday.

Reflection on semester 1

In the GTCS standards for registration; it states that both registered and student teachers are required to  reflect and engage in self evaluation using the relevant professional

The first semester of (MA1) Education, was crucial in allowing me to develop the foundations i required in order to progress sufficiently into semester 2. Throughout the semester my confidence grew as my knowledge developed, this allowed me to answer confidently in lectures and also allowed me to bring forward my ideas in group work.


throughout the semester we were given required reading to do for the next lecture. to begin with i seen this as a strenuous task, that did not have much point to it because i already knew about many of the issues that we were presented with, and so had already made my own opinions on them. however as the module progressed i began to enjoy the reading as I soon realized the reading was not implemented in order to make us change our minds or to inform us on an issue but  was in fact given to us in order to develop our understanding of why people think differently on an issue and the importance in this, in relation to professional development.

As a professional it is extremely important to be aware that although we may believe our views are right, many others may believe otherwise .This is crucial to understand as it allows us to come to a fair resolution that pleases both parties. in teaching this could be a disagreement with a parent on an issue that occurred in class, it is important to be able to view a situation from both sides, as it allows for us to create a good relationship with parents as well as being fair and not unreasonable.


overall by reflecting back on what i have learnt during my first semester at university, i have learnt that being open minded and open to change is crucial, in aiding me in developing as a professional, and therefore in future i will ensure i keep this in mind when tackling all tasks. along with this in future i will do my best to ensure that i view a situation or issue from both sides to ensure that i grasp a full understanding of the task or issue at hand.

My response to the BBC article on school uniform.

This post is in relation to the article that is on the BBC surrounding the issue of school uniform; more specifically at Hartson Academy in Kent . I believe this to be an example of school uniform standards going too far. Whilst I believe that school uniform Is important; in this instance I believe they have taken this principle to an extreme. Sending pupils home for not wearing “appropriate” school clothes puts the representation of the school first, rather than the pupils education.

Furthermore by sending pupils who are wearing school uniform that is deemed as inappropriate in terms of this specific schools uniform standards, the school is wasting pupils valuable learning time; and this is time that these pupils will never get back. Recently in the news there have been reports that the GCSE exams have been made even harder.In an article posted by the BBC it stated that “The new-style GCSE exams in England are the most difficult since the end of O-levels in the 1980s.” So why would a school who’s best interests should be its pupils and their education, send home students who are potentially already stressed and worried  enough about the demands of their year at school? Perhaps the students and even some parents are finding it easier to understand the new GCSE courses than this schools policy on  uniform.

In addition it is clear that parents are outraged by this policy, and one man even stated that he would no longer be sending his daughter to the school; this clearly shows a negative relationship with the school is being formed for many parents. This therefore means it will be harder for certain families to work in collaboration with the school, as they have formed a bad relationship with the school and this may have a negative impact on a pupils education; which in turn may lead to further stress for pupils and may negatively effect their health and wellbeing. If this situation occurred in Scotland would this be in keeping with the GIRFEC policy? I think not.

On the one hand, whilst I have appeared to have taken the same side as the outraged parents I do understand the head masters point of view. He wants his school to be viewed as a proper and respectable school that has pupils who wear there school uniform with pride . However, on the other hand I strongly believe that the head master should take in to consideration both the  money and the time that this is costing his pupils. Many parents will be unable to afford new school uniform every year and since this dress code has newly been implemented, it adds additional stress on to parents as well as pupils. Therefore, overall I believe that the school that is referred to in the BBC’s article has taken their code of conduct surrounding school uniforms to an extreme and have lost sight of what truly matters the pupils and their education.


References:  (Last Accessed: 28/09/17) This is the article which my argument is based on.