Category Archives: 2.3 Pedagogical Theories & Practice

Why Discovering Maths?

Throughout my school life, I’ve had a very mixed experience with mathematics. My earliest memories of maths are from primary school. They consist of the class teacher sitting us down on the carpet, teaching us a concept, and being told to complete the coinciding pages in our TeeJay Maths textbooks. Although this was a repetitive technique, I didn’t mind it. Overall, I would say I probably enjoyed primary school maths.

However, I found the transition from primary to secondary to be quite difficult. My friend and I had always sat next to each other and often worked together during our maths lessons in primary. I remember, very vividly, my first day at secondary school. We sat in rows of individual desks in my maths class and I immediately began panicking that I could no longer rely on anyone else to help me. Not only this, but the teaching was very different. We very much worked in silence with very few people ever asking questions, and I found there to be one key difference. I felt much more under pressure. I never wanted to offer an answer in class, too terrified that I would get the answer wrong.

Throughout my secondary education, when it came to maths, I felt there was a much bigger focus on preparing us for exams than ensuring we thoroughly understood the work. This led to a breakdown in my relationship with maths. It was a case of memorising question types and formulas in the hope that this would get us through the exams. This is why when it came to choosing my subjects and I found out that I did not need higher maths to get into university, I was overjoyed that I would get to drop it as a subject after 4th year.

Looking back now, although I did not enjoy the teaching methods, I do also think the way I felt about maths stemmed a lot from my personal attitude. Myself, and a lot of my friends, often spoke about how we “couldn’t do it” and “couldn’t wait to drop it” as a subject.  I realise now, constantly having the attitude that I would not understand it, did not help my situation. I haven’t done much maths since I finished my national 5 course. Although I knew I wanted to do primary teaching, I didn’t worry about the teaching of maths. The thought of it never worried me. However, after experiencing placement and realising the amount of children that cope with maths anxiety at primary school, I have thought a lot about the way I am going to teach maths and how my personal attitude towards the subject will affect this.

When I saw that “discovering maths” was an elective option for us, I wanted to know more about it. When hearing people in the year above us discussing what it was like, I realised that this was the module choice for me. Although my relationship with maths has not always been the best, I do want to gain a better understanding and appreciation for it as a subject . I truly believe this module will help me become a better practitioner. Having the knowledge and understanding about why maths is so important will hopefully help me in the future when teaching it. I believe another reason for me not enjoying maths in secondary was because I couldn’t understand how it was relevant to my life and I didn’t think I would ever actually use it. Already, in the two weeks that I’ve had of discovering maths, I am beginning to gain a better understanding of why maths is so important and that it really isn’t that scary, and hopefully I will be able to help the children I teach understand this too.