For me, even the word “maths” has connotations of dread, boredom and simply just not enjoyable. Traditionally, maths is taught on a blackboard, followed by textbook work to consolidate the learning. What if, however, you simply don’t understand the explanation, switch off halfway through because you aren’t engaged and then have no idea how to complete the textbook work? This cycle then repeats itself and you progressively become more and more lost, which kicks in feelings of panic and anxiety. I personally feel as though this was my main issue in school, resulting in my hatred towards the subject. How could this cycle be reversed? The key to this is making the subject engaging to pupils.
The Boring Subject
I think many of us would agree that maths is one of the more boring subjects out there. This was my view anyway, until after some of Eddies inputs. We were shown a few ways that maths can be taught in a more active and engaging way, which made me realise maths can be fun! I think it is extremely important that maths is active and engaging and had it been presented to me in this way, I would have a very different outlook on it. Making a maths lesson more memorable is more likely to have an impact on the pupil and make it easier for them to remember concepts and start to make links to other areas within the subject. In addition, if they are enjoying what they are doing they will associate that feeling with the subject. In turn this will decrease the feelings of maths anxiety.
Maths and Art
I was in Spain this summer and walked through many streets with pretty tiles, the floors in our hostel were even tiled. I didn’t look at them and think of maths, shape and symmetry, I just thought they were aesthetically pleasing. After Eddies workshop about creative maths, I realised that maths is all around us in a variety of creative ways. What I was looking at were different tessellations, that had all individually be planned out and put together using shapes that fit. We had the chance to create our own, and I found it very engaging.
We used three different shapes to create this, however, some that we were looking at had as many as 8 or more! This activity forced you to think about the different shapes and all the ways the shapes can fit, without realising you were doing maths. This was a stress free maths activity, one of the very few I have experienced. This is exactly the type of stress free environment I want to create in my classroom.