Category Archives: 1.4 Prof. Commitment

A Victorian for a Day

“Make sure you remember to put that scarf on!” shouted my mum as I left her to start the walk into the school playground, “You won’t look like a Victorian if you don’t put it around you like a shawl!”. Months of hard work and dedication had led to this day, the day where we finally got to showcase all of our work on the Victorians to our parents and carers. My whole family was involved by this stage – my gran had sown an outfit together for me, my mum had taken time off work to come and see our presentation, my dad had raided the garage to find parts for the Victorian house we made as a group – so there was a lot riding on this to go well. I could not wait to showcase all of our hard work we had put into creating our props and speech for the presentation – our Victorian house we made from a show box, our letters written from the perspective of a Victorian man or lady, our poster of all the inventors we had learnt about from the era, and the rest. We had even transformed the classroom into a class from the Victorian times so you were transported into the era as soon as you walked through the door – it was so realistic!

I remember this day in Primary 7 so vividly as the sharing of our learning to parents and carers was made into such a big deal that it was difficult not to get excited about it. I recall being so happy to be able to share my learning with my family that it made me more motivated to learn as much as I could in the lead up to the shared afternoon.

My teacher was super enthusiastic about the topic and really made it come to life through the stories she told us, the case studies she shared and the transforming of the classroom. We even had to sit in rows one day and call our teacher ‘Miss’ – it felt as if I had been transported back in time as everyone played their part in creating the context. I even recall our Head Teacher getting involved and pretending to be really really strict! The context of the learning was so engaging and stimulating that it became something that I looked forward to learning about everyday.

My teacher would also present problems to us from different characters or real life people we had been learning about such as Ebenezer Scrooge. One of the challenges I recall was to create a timeline of events during Queen Victoria’s reign. Before we did this, we decided as a class that it would be best to create timelines of our own lives first so that we understood how to apply it to a context such as the Victorians. Because the teacher let us lead the learning during most of the topic, it felt as if we had responsibility over what we were learning, thus making it more relevant and engaging for us as a class. She was also extremely flexible in letting us direct the learning as she would encourage the class to investigate questions they had and supported them in doing so.

Overall, I feel that this experience was so memorable for me as it gave me the opportunity to share and develop my knowledge and understanding with my family, direct the learning taking place, and be fully emerged in the learning through the engaging context that my teacher created.

Maths IS important!

“Is maths important?” my lecturer asked during a recent Discovering Mathematics workshop. My exam driven former self would have explicitly answered no to this question, as I had all sorts of weird and wonderful equations and rules drilled into my head at this point – none of which I have actually implemented within my everyday life, but hey! At least I passed my exam…

As I am no longer in this environment, and have begun my journey back into the
Primary School setting, I have began to re-establish the view that maths IS important. But what caused my shift in opinion on the importance of maths when I reached High School?

I believe that in Primary School we are taught in such a way that allows us to have a conceptual understanding (the HOW and WHY) of the area we are learning, formally known as relative understanding (Skemp, 1989). Whereas in High School, my experience was being taught the ‘HOW’ of a branch of mathematics – known as a procedural or instrumental understanding(Skemp, 1989). Upon asking my Higher maths teacher why we needed to know the likes of the quadratic formula, the cosine rules and how to differentiate an equation, he replied “you don’t – you just need to know HOW to do it”. The fact that my own maths teacher was teaching us based on instrumental understanding may suggest that either; he underestimated the power of understanding the WHY, or he was not required to teach it, so he simply didn’t. As long as we managed to get the answers right, even if we did not understand why it was right, he would say we were doing a good job and were heading on route to pass the exam.

Not knowing the WHY behind the mathematics I was being taught made it seem irrelevant and useless to me, hence why I refused to see its importance at the time. Ma (2010) suggests that having a profound (or relative) understanding of mathematics enables learners to see the ‘interconnectedness’ between concepts, thus they are able to apply their knowledge to a wider range of scenarios than having an instrumental understanding alone. His theory dismisses teaching towards an procedural understanding (like my teacher did), as it restricts the wider connections an individual can make between what they are learning and other areas of the curriculum, and also in their everyday life (depending on the nature of the topic being explored).

My belief that High Schools are teaching towards the objective of passing exams is strengthened by the data released by the Scottish Government (2012), as it shows the percentage of pupils performing very well at the level they are working at in maths decreases by 18% from Primary 6 to S2 (see graph below). This statistic, although not surprising to me, is a shocking reminder that the strategies for teaching maths in High Schools is not as effective as those demonstrated within Primary School.

Overall, I believe that mathematics is an important aspect of every child’s education. Although, I believe that its importance is lost throughout High School due to a lack of relative understanding of the concepts that students are being taught, meaning they are less likely to recognise links between concepts and overcome difficulties they encounter within maths problems (Skemp, 1989). This means that they are more likely to adopt a negative attitude to learning maths in the classroom. By giving our children space to be creative (see previous post titled ‘Maths can be… creative?’) and delve deeper into their understanding of different mathematical concepts, we are more likely to develop their awareness of the transferable nature of the skills that can be applied to different areas of maths and other wider connections. This leads to the development of ‘interconnectedness’ that Ma (2010) suggests is critical to having a profound understanding of mathematics, and thus recognising its importance in everyday life.



Ma, L (2010) Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics. Oxon: Routledge.

Scottish Government (2012) Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2011 (Numeracy). Available online at: [Accessed 3 October 2018].

Skemp, R. R. (1989) Mathematics in the Primary School. London: Routledge.

Critical Reflection on Semester 1

Semester 1 was a whole new learning curve for me, especially working with other prospective students in the Social Work and Community Learning and Development courses for the ‘Working Together’ module.

Myself and seven others from the 3 professions came together to produce a presentation based on our visit to a Social Work agency and how well we thought we worked together as a group throughout the module. I was a bit timid to begin with in the group. I think this was because I came straight from school to University where I sat exams which assessed me purely on my own capabilities. This put me at a disadvantage when it came to collaborating within my group as it felt unusual to me to be challenged on my views as I had never really experienced this before, whereas others in my group had much more experience of working in a collaborative environment.

After some time in the group, I quickly began to contribute more to discussions as I saw the benefits of bringing everyone’s views together but also challenging them. I learnt to listen and take into consideration the views of others in my group and use it to develop my own views. This allowed us to come to varied and diverse answers and conclusions to different topics.

Moving forward, I will use this experience to engage with professions outside of the teaching community when on my Professional Practice, and to share my professional learning and development with colleagues as directed by section 3.4.2 of the Standards for Provisional Registration (The General Teaching Council for Scotland, 2012).


The General Teaching Council for Scotland (2012). The Standards for Registration: mandatory requirements for Registration with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Available at: (Accessed: 19 January 2018).