Maths has always been one of my favourite subjects! Although I loved it, I wouldn’t say I was amazing at it, I really had to work on different topics to improve my grades and understanding in school, but it was always something so rewarding to me. Every problem is like a puzzle – there is a solution and there are many different ways to get there. I can always remember the feeling of staring at problems in my GCSEs for ages and the moment it clicks and you can get started you really feel like you accomplish something.

Tara Harper’s love for maths has really encouraged me and excited me for teaching maths to children. For me, the beautiful part of maths is the feeling when you (finally) solve the problems that you have, whether that be on the first attempt or more likely after a few goes of trial and error. Maths is different in that there usually a set answer of right and wrong. Before the inputs, I think I had been stuck in the academic way that maths is only about getting the right answer and that’s it, however, Tara has shown me that there are so many opportunities to connect maths across the curriculum! One particular method was where she asked us to work out a simple problem and told us we would be feeding back. However, before we all shouted out the answer, she told us it. To some this may seem pointless, however, this opens up a door to so much more. From this, we had to use our communication skills to show how we solved the problem through critical thinking which can also be applied to every day life for example, working out the best pizza deal or phone contract.

It’s time to dispel the myths that ‘I’m rubbish at maths’, ‘You’re either good at maths or literacy’ and especially from parents ‘I was awful at maths.’ I believe that if you approach everything with an open mind and a positive attitude, it will go better! If someone tells you you are bad, or you have a thought in your mind that you can’t do something then it will likely prevent you from succeeding.

I know from experience that maths isn’t just going to click for everyone. I loved algebra, however when it came to circle theorems I just couldn’t get my head around them. For me, the difference here to perhaps the experiences of others was an amazing teacher. My GCSE (Nat 5 for all the Scots) teacher gave up so much time to help me with the same topics over and over again, and put up with me having my hand up every five minutes in the classroom. I wasn’t afraid because I knew I wanted to succeed in maths.

In the classroom with our future pupils, we need to make sure that there is an open space to discuss our problems and ask questions, no matter how basic or complex they are, because any question is better than no question. One thing that helped me, was not just looking at maths from the one set way the teacher did calculations, but looking and trying a variety of ways to find which one was the best for me. Everyone can do maths and has the ability to do maths, their approach may take longer or it might take them longer to grasp a topic but that is completely okay! Encourage their work, if the answer is wrong, don’t just mark a big cross over it and tell pupils to try again! Commend their efforts in trying to solve it and walk through the solution with them. Through these approaches I hope my pupils can have the same feeling when doing maths as I do.

Our Society is Failing

I’m aware that’s a pretty bold statement to make, especially considering that the UK provides the likes of the NHS and Education to us for free. However, in a continually changing world, it seems increasingly more difficult to help everyone who is in need. This failure does not lie solely with just the Government but with every single citizen residing in society, including me.

How easy is it to walk down the street past numerous homeless people and not give them anything or walk past another charity collection bucket? For me, I feel overwhelming guilt walking past those who appear to have nothing, especially when I’ve sat and complained about something they could only dream of having. Sometimes, I even question if their circumstances are really as bad as they make them out to be, partly because I know no different from the media and the people around me.

To me, the media portrays those in need as ‘benefit scroungers’, ‘addicts’ or even simply ‘lazy’ and ‘taking the easy route’, and without a doubt that plays on our unconscious bias to alter the way we see those in need.

Whilst reading ‘The Roles We Play’ by ATD 4th World, one particular comment really stood out to me from a disabled mother of three called Moraene:

“I am of value to my community and to society but I’m invisible to those who do not know me and stigmatised bu the headlines they read.”

It’s so easy to discount disabled, unemployed and homeless people of not fully being able to contribute in a meaningful way, however throughout the ATD report, it became clear that those are the people who are the most generous. They give up countless hours of their time to help those in greater need than themselves, and will persevere no matter the circumstance, to ensure that they and their families can have an ‘adequate’ lifestyle. 

They are striving for adequate. Enough to have a roof over their head and a little to eat. Nothing extravagant or unnecessary, and to me that is definitely something I need to adapt to and strive towards.

As a society, I know there is so much more we can do. Whether it be a kind smile to a stranger on the street, buying someone lunch or volunteering to spend time doing something for other people, we should give it our very best shot because we never know when it could hit us or our closest friends and family.

“There’s no such things as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” –  Scott Adams