Maths was definitely a subject I had to work hard at during school. I was often filled with dread at the thought of having to wrap my head around a new mathematical concept, which had not really been explained. I do still suffer from maths anxiety, but I am determined not to pass this on to my pupils and am motivated to make maths fun. Haylock states that anxiety surrounding maths “is associated with rigid and inflexible thinking in unfamiliar mathematical tasks and leads to insecurity and caution”. (Haylock, 2014, p.6.).
I was surprised at how quickly time flew during the input, as I normally would be counting down the minutes until I could leave maths behind me for another day. Tara created a safe environment for everyone, which made it much easier to pay attention to and understand what she was saying. This was in sharp contrast to the hostile environment and fear I was subjected to by my previous maths teachers. Looking back, no wonder I struggled with maths!
Numeracy and maths is an essential part of the curriculum, which everyone needs to be able to understand, in order to succeed in life. Education Scotland states “Mathematics is important in our everyday life, allowing us to make sense of the world around us and to manage our lives.” (Education Scotland, no date, p.1.). An interesting point was made that illiteracy is not acceptable in society, but innumeracy is much more tolerated. Many adults say that they “hate maths”, or they were “always bad at maths”. This negative opinion is definitely picked up on by children and could also create issues which last a life time. Why have we allowed this to be the case and how can I, as a practitioner, prevent this trend from continuing?
I had never considered the idea that there were different ways to tackle a maths problem, because I had always been encouraged to follow set rules, and work out the problem in one specific way. This is where I developed the idea that maths was a very rigid subject compared to literacy and other areas of the curriculum. However, there is definitely an opportunity in maths to solve problems in a way that suits you, if each individual actually understands why there are different steps.
Education Scotland, ‘curriculum for excellence: mathematics principles and practice’, (no date), Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/mathematics-pp.pdf, (accessed 24.01.19).
Haylock. D, ‘Mathematics Explained for Primary Teachers’, (2014), (London, Sage Publications Inc).