the maths and creativity sandwich.

Never would I have imagined that myself or anyone could sandwich together maths and creativity. Yet what a wonderful sandwich it is! Realistically, the majority of people would strongly argue against this opening statement, my self being one of them, however let me tell you that it is more than possible.

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Like most sandwiches it all begins with the bread and in this case it begins with MATHS and Art. If you wanted to find these breads on a supermarket shelf you would instinctively look at opposite ends. However, this is not true because they could actually be found right next door to each other.  My own experience of maths and art at school was not in anyway this experience. I would have confidently argued during my time at school that art was the elegant French baguette – thick, crunchy and popular-  and on the other hand maths was the sourdough of all breads – bland, odd tasting and for the select few. Although reflecting on this now I think differently. This week in discovering maths we were exposed the creative aspects of this once bland subject.

This adventure was sparked by looking in detail at shapes. We discussed the names, number of side and angles of a variety of 2D shapes such as triangles, squares and hexagons.

You are now wondering how does this relate to maths? And it begins by introducing the idea of tessellation. ‘Tessellation (or tiling) is a repeating pattern of shapes that fit perfectly together without any overlaps or gaps.’ Brown (2018). Simple shapes such as triangle and squares can tesselate because their angles can make a full rotation. But how do you do make it personal?….

  1. Take an original shape, such as a square, and cut segments out of it.
  2. You then take your segments and add them back onto a different side of the square.
  3. You can then repeatedly join this new shape together by repeating, rotating or mirroring it.
  4. Repeat it all over the page, your final result should be a wonderful tessellated pattern.

When this is practiced you can make magnificent patterns and works of art.  Traditionally this commonly used within Islamic art and patterns.

(Please watch this short clip to see many different types of visual tessellations)

Watson, C (2015)

As I discussed this shows that maths can be used in an engaging and exciting way and this is what is extremely important when introducing maths into any classroom. I believe that when you begin a maths lesson you have only a few moments to make it interesting otherwise children will switch off. This what brings me back to the sandwich. Do NOT present maths as the sourdough bread! Within tessellation alone there are hundreds of opportunities for children to put there own creative stamp on their maths sandwich. They can experiment with fillings, experiment with topping, experiment with size and most importantly of all they will understand how the sandwich is made.

This reiterates the concepts of Profound Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics (PUFM). For myself, by investigating this topic of tessellation alone my view of PUFM has evolved because I can see it represented in Maths! The root of tessellation is shape. Children’s basic understanding of shape will be to name the shape they see.  However, if pupils have PUFM  they can understand that if you alter the shape it will still have the same area. In other words pupils will not only be able to name the types of bread, they will   understand how the bread is actually made.

However because of constraints children will not have time to explore this and there for be unable to sandwich maths with creativity. So how do educators step of our this narrow box. Haylock and Thangata (2007) argue that drill like teaching methods which are reused over decades betray creativity. Thus how maths is taught in the classroom can either uplift or damage creative the link between maths and creativity. Similarly Maths needs to be understood by the educator before it can be understood by pupils (Setati, 2011). As a future teacher I will continue to encourage creative thinking and tasks classroom maths topics. If this is done by all it can transform Maths from a bland sourdough into a baguette.

References:

Brown, J. (2018) ‘Maths, creative? No way!’ ED21006: Discovering Maths. Available at: https://my.dundee.ac.uk/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_58988_1&content_id=_5217933_1 (Accessed: 29 September 2018).

Haylock, D. and Thangata, F. (2007)  Key concepts in teaching primary mathematics. London: SAGE.

Setati, M. (2011) Mathematics in Multilingual Classrooms in South Africa: From Understanding the Problem to Exploring Possible Solutions. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands 2012.

Scottish Government (no date) curriculum  for excellence: mathematics principles and practice. Available: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/mathematics-pp.pdf (Accessed: 29 September 2018).

Watson, C (2015) What is Tessellation? Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GiKeeWSf4s (Accessed: 29 September 2018). 

 

 

 

Resource Allocation Input

When we first arrived in the seminar we were told to disperse ourselves among the tables so that we would be equally divided into 5 groups. The task to complete in our groups was to create an item which students like us would be able to use on welcome week to help guide us throughout our first few weeks at university. As we all began to discuss the ideas of what we could make, our lecturer had passed out envelopes to each table which inside contained different materials. These materials were what we would eventually use in order to create our product. Looking around I had no idea why we would be doing this task in particular.

While we opened our envelopes we found a wide range of materials inside such as paperclips, sticky notes, coloured paper and pens. However looking around the room I found that each group had different amounts of resources most particularly one group who had 1 piece of paper, blue tack and a pen. When observing oneanothers envelopes we found it extremely strange that we hadn’t been given equal materials. All I could think at the time was “what is going on?”

As each group separately began to explain their ideas in front of the class I noticed that the first two groups had been given so much praise for their ‘astonishing’ and ‘absolutely brilliant’ ideas. This put pressure on our group because we had fewer materials than them and our student help box was being held together by some paper clips. As we began to present our design we received no praise. Not a ‘Well done that’s great’ or even an ‘I like the idea’. Derek did not seem impressed with our design at all. The feedback got worse until it came to the last group and finally it clicked what was going on when Derek made it obvious he wasn’t listen in and stood on his phone through the entire presentation.

This was a lesson on teaching attitudes and resource allocations throughout schools and it is a valuable one.

By praising some groups for their efforts and leaving others to ask what they had done wrong it highlighted what is probably happening in schools RIGHT NOW. As a whole class we agreed that by changing our attitudes towards different children is can diminish their confidence in the class. It showed that those who come from wealthier, nurtured and sheltered communities are much more likely to receive the praise for their progression than others. Those who have the support of their families can sometimes progress faster than others, for some children this can make the difference in there future careers and ambitions. As teachers we have the ability to create a class atmosphere were children understand; everyone can help each other to improve, we aren’t good at everything and no one should ever be put down by their social background.

Moving on to resource allocation I find it extremely important to highlight that every school has better or worse resources than each other but it is how we use those resources to enhance the same level of learning that matters. Just because you go to a school in a deprived area doesn’t mean that you should be treated any differently in what you can accomplish academically.  After completing our Resource Allocation seminar I found myself thinking about how when we as teachers take on a class we are working with children who have completely different cognitions.

How global racism shocked me

What is Race?

When asked in our Values lecture “What is your understanding of Race, Ethnicity and Discrimination”? At a first glance I thought that I would know exactly what these terms meant but I found it extremely difficult to come up with a set answer. I had noted that Ethnicity represented an individual or group’s culture or tradition and Discrimination was linked to isolating someone based on their beliefs, skin, culture or faith. The main part which surprised me was my definition on Race… because I couldn’t think of one.

In my opinion modern day Racism is very much still alive if so more than ever. While most people may believe that their country or even they aren’t racist we may still have unconscious bias, which mean to uphold an immediate reaction or opinion about a topic, but you are afraid to express your comment out of fear it is ‘socially unacceptable’. Having learned about this I find that it is the harsh reality of how modern day people think.

Recently during one of my university lectures we were given countless examples of racism from the days of the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany, when civil right was far from being part of society. However what I found out about modern day Racism shocked me. You see these radical groups aren’t just found in the history books they are growing in the hundreds around the world NOW.
An example that we saw was a white nationalists group in Charlottesville around two months ago. In this video clip there was an estimated 400 people demonstrating against a peaceful park protest for ‘Black Lives Matter’. During this demonstration you could hear the nationalists shouting “blood and soil!” and “White lives Matter!”-often related to Nazi fascist campaign slogans- to retaliate against the protest group. Another example was when the nationalists drove a car at 80mph through a packed street of protesters who AGAIN were campaigning for ‘Black Lives Matter’ an incident which sadly killed one person and injured many others.

 

 

I personally uphold the opinion that everybody is on a level playing field no matter if they are Black, White, Asian, Catholic, Muslim the list is endless. Reflecting on my original opinion of discrimination I would say that it is much more extreme than I believed. Could you imagine the uproar which would happen if all of a sudden white people were seen to be inferior to black people? Or if white people were being murdered while they innocently protested or walked home at night? If we could not imagine this to be a reality for some then how it is acceptable for others to be treated this way?

As an aspiring future professional I will strongly maintain these views. I feel that from the moment that any child enters a classroom they should be accepted not only by myself as teacher but by their peers. I hope that teachers and myself can work together to encourage a positive attitude towards different cultures and traditions rather than find it acceptable for people to have such discriminant attitudes. However everyone must play their part in this.