So, the semester is ending which means that one of my absolutely favourite modules is too coming to an end. ‘Discovering Mathematics’ was my chosen elective for this semester, a module that I was right to assume would be extremely beneficial for my Education degree. I have to admit I am quite sad that we are now done with the module. It has been an interesting and enjoyable semester and I have been looking back at all of the things I have learned as a result.
The main purpose of the module was to become somewhat ‘at one’ with maths. It was heavily focused on developing an understanding of fundamental mathematics, something that Liping Ma has expressed to be a necessity for teachers. However, this module has taught me that having a PUFM (Profound Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics) does not mean that you have to magically become a maths genius. It is not about being able to fill a chalkboard with complex equations or suddenly being able to name every single digit of Pi. It is about understanding what lies at the very core in maths. It is about noticing the links that maths has within other learning aspects, being able to view maths problems from different perspectives. Having a PUFM is about understanding the basic principles of mathematics and the notion of maths continually progressing and developing. If we can understand these underlying principles of the subject then we deepen our PUFM, something I definitely think this module has helped me to achieve.
I feel that my understanding of Fundamental Mathematics has increasingly grown over the course of this module. Three months ago, if someone asked my opinions regarding longitudinal coherence in maths or about the ever present Fibonacci sequence my mind would have went completely blank and I would probably enter the panic zone. Now, I feel more calm in relation to maths. Mathematics and I have had a little bit of a rollercoaster relationship with plenty of ups and downs but I now feel that we are at peace with one another. I am aware of the maths around me, of it’s significance and I feel that I am working towards gaining that all powerful PUFM. I am not fully there yet. I feel that there is always room for progression and, as a teacher, I have plenty more to learn when it comes to the teaching of maths. However, I feel that on a personal level, my maths skills have significantly improved and my eyes have been opened to the range of possibilities there are in which to teach it. I can now see that maths is truly all around me and I often catch myself noticing the little things. Whether it be the detailed patterns hidden within nature in plain sight or the basic skills I use in work, I now realize that maths is ever present in society and always will be in more ways than we can possibly fathom.
So, the time has come to say goodbye to ‘Discovering Mathematics’. All I can say is thank you for teaching me so many valuable skills to take forward into my future teaching career. I have enjoyed the module immensely and have taken so much from it. For any future teachers that may be reading this, I highly recommend that you take this module, especially if you are feeling that maths anxiety niggling in your brain when it comes to the thought of teaching it in classes. This module will help you in so many ways and I am happy to have been a part of it.
Ma, L. (1999). Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers’ Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.