An idea from today’s first maths input that really struck with me was how innumeracy should be just as unacceptable as illiteracy. Far too many children in my generation and the next are complacent about lacking in basic maths skills and, as Tara Harper stated, this will be detrimental to the rest of their lives. It is important that we tackle this problem from the primary stage so that children can grow to be confident in their skills.
No one is born good at maths; it must be understood that it simply comes from practice, dedication and effort – in the same way you will never learn how to spell a word unless you familiarise yourself with it. I think a key lesson to teach children about learning maths is that even the ‘cleverest’ mathematicians out there have made mistakes to get to where they are. Absolutely nothing in life is learned without first realising what not to do, and so too maths. People are also frustrated with maths because there is only one right answer, as opposed to more interpretative subjects like English. To some, this might make maths easier to understand but I know that this used to frustrate me too. My own maths working certainly had some creative differences to the teacher’s at times! This should not dishearten children, though, because as teachers we should teach the recommended way we have tried and tested to be the easiest, but there will never necessarily be a right way.
Going back to my original point, I think it is a shame that so many children struggle and consequentially give up with maths at such an early age. Like it or not, maths is literally all around us – simply calculating how many minutes you have until you must be in school or how much change you should be left with after purchasing that toy you wanted. Maths cannot be shrugged off and the phrase ‘I can’t do maths’ should not be as socially accepted as it is. As teachers we will have the responsibility to equip our children with skills for life, so good numeracy skills are just as essential as being able to read and write.
My situation is quite fortunate because I was always in the ‘top group’ in maths and I have received a good example of how maths should be taught so that it is memorable and understandable. It is very important that teachers incorportate this into lessons and ensure that children can discuss and justify their thinking as when they can do this, it is clear they have understood and can do it again. According to ‘Mathematics Explained for Primary Teachers: Learning How to Learn Mathematics’, it is fundamental that children are able to make ‘connections’ between their learning. This is where new knowledge is being built onto existing knowledge and so maths no longer seems daunting, but is easier in managable steps.
Over the next few inputs and on my placement, I look forward to learning how I can teach maths appropriately and help children to not be filled with dread at the thought of maths. Mistakes are acceptable; in fact, they are essential for learning and growing skills that will last a lifetime.