Ollerton (2003) says “Mathematics is beautiful, intriguing, elegant, logical, amazing and mind-blowing; a language and a set of systems and structures used to make sense of and describe the physical and natural world”. On the other hand, “Mathematics is frightening,
boring, debilitating and can appear illogical; a thing many people made, or make, little sense of at school”. I believe that most children would agree with the latter.
To me, maths is one of the subjects that many pupils at primary and secondary school really struggle with. I definitely used to dread when it was time for mental maths or working from the Heinemann textbooks. I think that children are insecure about maths for a number of reasons and children’s confidence is dropped when they think other children are better than maths than others. Young children think that if you are good at maths and science, it means you are more clever than those who are more interested in the creative subjects. I believed this for many years, and probably right up to being in a higher maths class in fifth year, where I felt that everyone in the class chose maths because they wanted to be there as they were applying for courses in Maths, architecture and engineering, whereas I my knowledge was stronger in subjects like art and music. I never used to think I would need maths and everything I was learning was pointless, but recently I’ve been thinking and realising that maths is a very important aspect of everyday life and just as important as reading and writing.
Keogh and Naylor (2004) argue “If we want children to “think out loud”, to be creative and critical in their thinking and to argue about alternative possibilities, then we need to provide the kind of learning environment in which they feel comfortable to do that. They need to know that they can make mistakes or give wrong answers and still feel good about themselves”. I feel we as teachers need to encourage those children who are less confident with maths to become more enthusiastic by supporting them to learn form their mistakes and find different ways of approaching it. Discussing the subject is a way to get pupils more engaged in their learning and find out different strategies and for them to realise that maybe they aren’t the only ones who find maths challenging.