Finale of Discovering Mathematics

My essay is submitted. The last workshop is over and it’s the end of the discovering mathematics module.  To round off the module, I thought I would post an end of module blog post.

Was the module what I expected?

Discovering mathematics wasn’t exactly what I expected if I am being honest. I expected it to be a lot more directed at our future in the education profession (even with it being an elective module – I still thought this because it was an education elective) and I sort of thought it would be like our maths inputs from Teaching Across the Curriculum module in second semester of first year.

Did the module disappoint me?

Not at all – even without it being what I expected it to be. The best thing about the module had to be Richard’s excitement and enthusiasm. There isn’t many people who can take demand planning, turn it into a game and have everyone in the palm of their hands.

What did I gain from the module?

Before the module, I thought I knew a fair bit about mathematics. After the module, I realised I only knew the mathematics I was taught in school and mainly from secondary school which I perceived as pointless during and after standard grade maths – there was no relevance to my life which is exactly why I didn’t finish higher maths.

During the module, I realised just how relevant maths is to our day to day life (for everyone) and society. However, I still stand by the fact I think standard grade and higher mathematics is pointless… Who even uses standard deviation really?

The mathematics we discovered throughout this module was maths and music (who doesn’t listen to music?), the mathematics behind pineapples, the mathematics outside the classroom: it is the type of mathematics that is simply all around us. But it is also the mathematics we are never taught about at school. This module has given me a fresh outlook on why we need mathematics which leads nicely onto the next question I had to ask myself…

Where/when will I use this in the future?

The fresh outlook on mathematics that I have gained throughout this module has made me realise just how little relevance there is in learning mathematics out of a textbook for children. Examples in textbooks go on about little Jimmy buying 30 Watermelons (really?).

This module has given me multiple ideas of how to bring relevance into mathematics when I teach – even without the module being directed at teachers.

A particular lecture that stood out for me, for teaching in the future, was the maths and astronomy lecture by Dr Simon Reynolds. I think the majority, if not all, children learn about space when they are in primary school and I have never thought about the space in space. Yes, teachers tend to leave out learning about the space in space – the irony. Dr Simon Reynolds spoke to us about the size of the planets, pictures normally used to convey the planet sizes compared to one another but never about the distance between each planet. This will definitely affect my teaching when I teach a class about space.

Furthermore, in the future (a little bit closer than getting into my own classroom) I plan to take the information I learnt from Will Berry’s input on outdoor education and maths for my second year Learning from Life placement at Adventure Aberdeen and hopefully use this in relation to my placement as Adventure Aberdeen is an outdoor learning centre.

Where is my maths anxiety now?

We began the module with Tara Harper asking us to fill in an survey on how anxious we were about teaching mathematics and how we felt about mathematics (which I blogged about earlier), so I thought after going through the module it would be quite nice to reflect on this.

At the beginning my maths anxiety wasn’t overly high compared to a few of my friends anyway. I would say if I am being honest, it hasn’t really changed. I am still anxious to get graded on this module. I would however say that I do feel a bit more prepared for teaching maths in school now as I have many more ideas that I can use in the classroom (and I know my friends also have multiple ideas as well that they will hopefully share) and I can now approach maths in a classroom with ideas that will be a lot more relevant to a child’s life.

However, my friend who stated she had “awful maths anxiety” before this module now “definitely feels more confident with understanding more difficult maths such as (the) Golden Ratio and (the) Fibonacci (sequence)” and that this can all be put down to Richard. (Alexander, 2015)

Finally, do I recommend it for next year’s second years? 

If this hasn’t already convinced you – whether you love or hate maths, whether you are great or just feel you can’t do maths – this module is for everyone.

Yes it isn’t directed at teaching but you are bound to take lots away from it whether you think you know a lot about maths or you know nothing.

There is no “difficult” maths. There isn’t really any sums involved. You are looking in depth at the ideas and principles behind maths (and no it is not as boring as that sounds) as well as how maths comes into society (it really isn’t just the traditional STEM subjects like I first thought – who knew there was maths in a pineapple?…).

Richard’s enthusiasm and excitement will see that it is another great module next year again I am sure.

My Maths Mindset

Just after starting thMathAnxiety (2)e Discovering Mathematics elections, we were asked to do a maths anxiety questionnaire and reflect upon our maths anxiety. Therefore, this is my blog post on my maths mindset.

I feel my maths anxiety is overall quite low just now. I am fine, and actually quite enjoy, to listen to maths lectures and tutorials. I do not mind doing maths assessments that I am prepared for and aren’t graded such as the OMA. However, I feel more anxious doing examinations that are graded – this isn’t just maths related. The last time I felt like this was in standard grade maths. I quite enjoy the relaxed yet challenging atmosphere my standard grade maths teacher created. This is the way I wish to portray maths in my own classroom.maths

However, I dropped out of higher maths after two weeks because of the anxiety that I would not be able to cope with the level of mathematics and the stress of higher maths. After two weeks, I was feeling extremely anxious that the mathematics was too difficult and I would not get the support I needed to pass the exam.

I feel that maths is approached with a lot less anxiety and stress in university – it is a lot more relaxed atmosphere which is how I hope to convey it within my classroom as a teacher. I remember in primary 7 having a teacher on their probationary year and being very scared to answer any maths question in his class in case I got the answer wrong and was told so in front of the entire class. I feel that show me boards like we used in the lecture today is a good way for only me, as the teacher, to see how everyone is getting on with the topic without shaming them in front of their peers.