Fieldwork in History: A Trip to The Verdant Works

Recently as part of my engagement with the social studies module I decided to take a visit to Dundee’s Verdant Works museum. As I am not from Dundee I knew very little about the history of Dundee or the jute mill industry. So not only was my trip to the museum an chance to learn a little bit more myself  but also to see how this could be used as an out of school learning opportunity for a primary school class.

On arrival at verdant works, we were given a quick introduction to the background of what the museum covers and a starting point for what we would learn throughout our visit. We were also guided to a short movie which lasted around 15 minutes, which provided a quick bit of background information about Dundee’s Jute Mill industry and its impact. We then decided to have a wander round ourselves and have a look at what resources it had in terms of bringing children for fieldwork.

There are 4 main sections within the museum: an area dedicated to all things jute (Blue area); a learning space which included dress up facilities as well as a classroom (pink area); a section which was all about living during the Victorian times including health, work, school and leisure(green area); and an area which features various travelling exhibitions throughout the year, which was currently a Lego exhibition (purple area).

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the museum was and the large amount of interactive resources it had which could be used with children. There were various parts throughout which had touch screens aimed at children which would allow them to choose certain things that they wanted to learn about and it would give them a brief audio description of whatever they had selected. I felt was a great way to allow children to take in all the information as sometimes reading huge pieces of text at the side of an artefact can be challenging or unengaging for children.

The area which I felt would be the best to explore with children is the section on Victorian life, which largely focuses on the life as a child. This area would be particularly useful for a class studying Victorian times and could be used at the start of the topic to allow children to develop questions and thoughts which could then be explored throughout the learning of the topic. Pickford(2012) supports this idea by saying that a field trip or museum visit may be used at the very beginning of a topic to stimulate children’s initial questions and line of enquiry. After returning back to the classroom these questions can be developed on and answered.

There were various fun and engaging resources for children to explore and investigate through the Victorian section of the museum, some of which can be seen below:



A set of scales which allows you to see how much you weigh compared to the average Victorian chid. This would allow children to question based on what they have learnt about factors such as health within the museum, why the average child in Victorian times weighed less than the average child today?






An area allowing children to compare and contrast different elements of life from then and now, which have them starting to understand how their life differs from that of a Victorian child.





A  Victorian style classroom which allows children to see first hand and experience in a real-life context the way in which children experienced school and how this differs from their own experience. They can start to consider how it would feel being a child in this time.


 The learning space and classroom section within the museum is an excellent resource aimed at school groups. This provides a space to regroup and focus on questions, ideas or information which pupils have found particularly interesting. It allows a space for teachers to outline, explain or go over any tasks being set while on the trip. Within this learning space there is also an area in which children can dress up in Victorian style clothes and do some role play. This will allow them to put themselves into the shoes (quite literally) of people from the past and start to consider how they might have felt.



Catling (2014) suggests that in order to provide children with an effective out of classroom experience, with rich learning opportunities there are a lot of things a teacher must consider before going on the field trip. You must consider how learning in your chosen place is going to allow outcomes to be achieved and how it will fit into the sequence of activities for your chosen topic. Pickford (2012) agrees with this idea that in order for fieldwork to be effective it comes down to the teacher to plan effective and relevant learning opportunities. In order to achieve the most from an out of classroom trip, children should be given the opportunity to enquire, investigate and explore independently. The verdant works makes clear on its website that they provide teachers with the opportunity to come along for a familiarisation day to allow them to get a knowledge and understanding of the museum itself, and also to allow them to begin planning how the trip will run and what they would like the learning to focus on. They also provide various learning packs and workshops which give ideas of activities and different teaching and learning which can take place within the museum. These are both very useful resources in helping teachers to plan an effective fieldtrip.

Pickford (2012) provides an example of an effective way to approach a field trip based on Victorians, through an enquiry approach. He suggests the idea of a trip to an old Victorian classroom where children will be able to experience what it was like to go to school in the Victorian times, and suggests and range of activities such as role play or even doing an old fashioned handwriting lesson within this setting.   Before the trip children will be given the question “What was it like to be a Victorian child?” and this will be their enquiry question, throughout there time out of the class children must investigate independently,  gather and record their own findings, and come to reasoned conclusions to the question. This may be by writing notes or even taking pictures (if cameras can be provided) of things they find might be useful or interesting. I feel like this would be one of many interesting ways in which you could approach a trip to Verdant Works as there is a big focus on the life of children during the Victorian age. With the Victorian classroom and dress up facilities it would also be possible to do some kind of role play. There are many resources which children could explore and come to there own conclusions about how life must have been for these children and how it is different from their own life. This would also link very well to the Experience and Outcomes for ‘People, Past events and Societies’. Specifically relating to one at first level: SOC 1-04a I can compare aspects of people’s daily life’s in the past with my own by using historical evidence or the experience of recreating a historical setting (Education Scotland, undated).

Overall I am very impressed with my visit to The Verdant Works, not only have I now gained a wider knowledge of the history of Dundee, but it has also proved to me it is an excellent place to provide children with rich learning experiences within history. I would love to return again in future, not as the learner but the teacher this time.



Catling, S. (2014) ‘Valuing, Organising and managing learning outside of the classroom’ in Arthur, J. and  Cremin, T. (ed.) Learning to teach in the primary school. 3rd edn. Abington: Routledge.

Education Scotland (Undated, a) Social Studies Experience and Outcomes. Available at: (Accessed: 30 October 2018)

Pickford, T. Gardner, W. and Jackson, E. (2013) Primary Humanities: learning through enquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Dundee Heritage Trust (undated) Nursery and Primary Schools: Available at: (Accessed; 30 October 2018)



Final Reflection on Discovering Mathematics

As semester 1 draws to an end, I have decided to round off by reflecting on the last 12 weeks of discovering mathematics. Over the course of the module my understanding and opinions of mathematics have changed drastically, and this has truly surprised me. As someone who would say they struggle with maths anxiety, I was not quite sure what to expect from the module and in all honesty, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself in for the closer it came to the start of the semester. Surprisingly, I found myself really enjoying and taking an interest in mathematics, which I never thought I would say after my horrific experience of higher maths in high school which left me scarred for life (or so I thought) .

Coming into the module my opinion on mathematics was that it was all sums and textbooks. Throughout this module my previous opinion has been proved completely wrong. Through various inputs on ideas such as maths in art, puzzles and games, sport, and music, I now have a new appreciation for the creative applications of mathematics. It has proved that mathematics can be fun after all and its not just textbook pages and tricky equations. These inputs have also shown me the importance of fundamental mathematics within various elements of our society, which I had never really considered before. By learning and investigating maths in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, this module has also helped me to begin to overcome my maths anxiety.

Through studying Liping Ma’s (2010) Profound understanding of mathematics, I have also become much more aware that a deep understanding of mathematics is not just being able to answer every question right. A profound understanding of mathematics is understanding concepts, procedures, ideas, and how these are all interconnected and build upon each other. I am now aware that a fundamental understanding of mathematics is essential as a teacher, to be able to teach maths effectively and pass this understanding onto pupils.

Looking to the future

Within my future years of both being a student teacher and then ultimately a teacher within my own class, I will take forward what I have learned from this module. I believe that my new opinions and understanding I have gained through this module will have made a massive impact on my future practise and the way in which I approach and teach mathematics. I now understand that in order to teach mathematics effectively, you need more than just the knowledge of how to answer every question in every maths topic, you need a profound understanding of fundamental mathematics. I intend to continue to develop my own profound understanding after this module and by doing so this will continue to reduce my anxiety towards maths and allow me to teach it the best I possibly can. After seeing how maths can be made fun and creative by relating it to various different applications, I wish to explore this further within my practise and in my lessons by making maths as engaging as possible and getting away from the idea that maths is hard, boring and will never be needed again once school is over. I’m sure I will use many of the ideas we have looked at throughout this module to demonstrate to pupils how maths can be creative and how it is used in various aspects of our life which we don’t even realise. Overall this module has benefitted me greatly going forward, and despite my initial dread of what it may include I feel I definitely made the right choice.

Maths isn’t so bad after all!!!



Ma, L. (2010) Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics: Teachers Understanding of Fundamental Mathematics in China and the United States. Anniversary edn. New York: Routledge.

Your Hired!

in our recent input on mathematics in business, Richard set us an apprentice style   business simulation to demonstrate the mathematics in demand planning. As someone who watches the apprentice religiously every week, I was extremely excited at the opportunity to pretend I was one of the candidates trying to impress Lord Sugar (well in this case Richard) and on reflection I maybe took it a little too serious. After lots of deliberation Me and Gillian came up with Team Sparkle (because who doesn’t love sparkles?).


The Rules:

  • Each team started with £5000
  • The year was split into 4 quarters and we could only order 5 different
  • products per sales period (each quarter).
  • Any stock left from one sales period could be taken over to the next quarter (except items such as milk and bread which go off very quickly.)



When deciding initially what to order for the first quarter we had to consider a few different things. First, we considered what would be popular at this time of year, so straight away obviously ruling out any Christmas themed products- because who really buys a selection box in June? We then considered which produced appeared to make a higher profit, we were initially drawn to the champagne which are sold for double the price we would pay, as well as the beans sold for 8x more than we would pay!!! Along with these we decided to chose products which we knew sell consistently and regularly.


As you can see from the image above, all the products we chose to purchased sold reasonable well and managed to make us a reasonable profit, doubling our original £5000. To work out the money we made we had to do a series of mathematical calculations. First we had to work out how many of the units we ordered that were actually sold, by multiplying the quantity ordered by the percentage sold. Then to work out the sales value generated we had to then multiply the units sold by the selling cost. Finally, we had to work out the amount of units of remaining stock which could be carried over.

By calculating the total of our sales values and adding on the money we had left in the bank, at the end of the 1st quarter we had £10,040.

July- August-September

Again, we considered which items would sell best during these summer months again whilst making us more the most profit, we decided to order more champagne, bread and milk but this time adding on beer and soft drinks.

Again all of our products sold well with 100% of beers selling, and 90% of both the champagne and soft drink flying off the shelf. Again, by doing the calculations we were able to work out we now had £18,380 and a small amount of stock to carry over, almost doubling our money since the last quarter.


October- November- December

When we got to this quarter, we obviously had to consider that Christmas would be in this sales period meaning we could finally spend some of our money on selection boxes!! We decided to spend a large amount of money on more champagne as everyone enjoys a glass or two at Christmas, and for those who aren’t champagne fans we purchased 3,000 beers. We only purchased 500 of the frozen turkeys because although we knew these would sell, they were not going to make too much profit so we decided not to spend too much on these (potentially a risky move).

This round was very successful, with 100% of the selection boxes, champagne, turkeys and luxury hampers all selling. We were left with very little extra stock and we calculated our takings went up from 18,000 to 35,950. On reflection we probably could have purchased more high profit products such as the hampers or even more beans as 90% of them sold with the selling price still at 8x the purchase price.


January- February- March

In the last 3 months, we clocked on to the fact beans had sold consistently well through every sales period and with a consy. In this quarter the selling price for beans was 10x the purchase price!!! So we knew the key to success here was buying a lot of beans. We also decided to purchase more of the lower priced items such as milk and bread as Christmas always leaves the bank account looking bleak, so January may be a month of only beans on toast for breakfast lunch and dinner.

This month saw our earning increase majorly, with everything we had purchased selling reasonably well. 100% of beans sold meaning from the £5,000 we spent on them this brought in £50,000. In total we managed to take our starting figure from £5,000 up to £98,000, which to be honest I was very impressed with. I’m sure Alan Sugar would disagree.

Beans, beans, beans.

After completing the task and discussing our tactics with rest of the groups, we came to the conclusion that way to earn the most money throughout the game would literally be to only buy huge amounts of beans. Due to its consistently high percentage sales in each quarter and the massive increase from purchase price to selling price, if we had only spent our money on buying beans alone our earnings could have been way into the hundreds of thousands. Despite the months which it didn’t sell as well, any leftover stock would carry over to the final quarter due to large shelf life and would ultimately leave you with massive profits. If I was to do this over again, I would definitely put all my focus on beans. This maybe would have made profits that Lord Sugar would be more impressed with.

Throughout this business simulation we used various different mathematical strategies, most of which were basic concepts such as addition, subtraction and multiplication. Although this activity used basic fundamental mathematics, it also required a deeper level of understanding to be able to understand the processes and why the mathematics was being used. I think this would be a great activity to bring into the classroom. As it is based on basic maths processes, it could be easily made simpler or even harder by changing the amount of money that you begin with or the number of products you are allowed to purchase in each quarter. This would be a great way to show pupils a real-life application of mathematics, and encouraging them to develop problem solving skills and think critically. I thoroughly enjoyed the activity and I feel like it would be a fun and engaging way to explore maths with a class, because who doesn’t love the idea of making lots of money.

Millennium Mathematics Project

Following on from my previous blog post which was about maths in sport, during my research and reflection for this blog post i came across the Millennium Maths Project. The Millennium Maths Project is an education initiative designed for children aged between 3 and 19, created by that mathematics and education departments of The University of Cambridge. The main focus of this project is to increase mathematical confidence, enjoyment and understanding by using  imaginative and creative approaches to maths. Between 2015-2016 the website received 43 million page views from users worldwide, as well as 15,000 pupils and 4,000 teachers getting involved with face to face event and activities.

Maths and Sport

Originally to celebrate London Olympics 2012 the Millennium Maths Project created free online resources and activities for their maths and sport project. These resources include rich mathematical activities, articles and video challenges which are aimed at students from ages 5-18, and are arranged based on the 5 key stages within the English curriculum. These activities are designed to develop problem solving and mathematical reasoning in a creative and fun way. There is also a collection of activities based on maths in football which are in collaboration with arsenal football club.

Here are a few examples of activities aimed at children in stage 1(5-7 years) and 2(7-11 years).

After looking at how maths is applied within sport, and how this can then be used to teach or develop maths within the classroom, these activities look very useful for doing so. Also after finding out more about this project and what it aims to achieve, i think this is a great, useful and engaging resource that i will certainly consider using in future placements and once i have my own class.

The Millennium Maths Project also has various other divisions such as the maths and sport project, these include:

  • NRICH – this provides free mathematics enrichment resources for age 3-19 as well as teachers, which are designed to build confidence,  mathematical reasoning and initiative through problem solving.
  • Plus– this is a free magazine online, aimed at readers age 16+. This covers a variety of topics and theories such as do parallel universes exist, as well as uncovering the hidden maths behind headline news stories and mathematical research news.
  • Wild Maths– this aims to encourage mathematical creativity, curiosity, exploration, discussion and discovery. It involves identifying patters, making connections and looking at things in new ways based on what you already know. This provides rich and open-ended resources – mathematical activities, games and investigations aimed at 7-16 year olds.

I feel like this project ties in to a lot of the things we have discussed and looked at throughout the discovering mathematics module, such as creative maths and sports in maths. Both of which i have discussed in previous blog posts ‘can maths be creative?’ and ‘maths and sport’ (Dillon, 2017). I am very interested in the aims of this project and feel very strongly that using creative approaches to maths can help to develop understanding and confidence, so i feel like this resource could be extremely helpful to use within classrooms or to help develop these skills as well as enjoyment while teaching and reinforcing maths.


Dillon, R (2017) ‘Can maths be creative?’, Rebecca’s Teaching Blog, 21 November. Available at:

Dillon, R (2017) ‘Maths and Sport’ Rebecca’s teaching blog, 27 November. Available at:

University of Cambridge (2017) Millennium Mathematics Project. Available at: (Accessed: November 2017)

Can Animals Count??

In a recent input with Richard we were faced with the question “do you think animals can count?”, after a few moments of silence and deep thought this sparked a very interesting discussion on whether or not we thought animals have any form of numerical understanding. Some of us making suggestions like “my dog knows to wait for a count of 3 before he gets a treat” or “if your cat knows exactly when you will get home every night, is that an understanding of time?”. All of these questions left me unsure of my opinion on the question, but as am very big animal lover myself I would love the idea of my cat being able to do times tables or being a secret maths genius, but I was sceptical. The issue came up in discussion that animals probably don’t have the same mathematical understanding that humans do but perhaps just are just trained by owners to appear to understand simple mathematics. For example a dog can just be trained to know that after the sound “one, two, three” this is when they are given a treat rather than being aware this is counting. We then went on to look at a few studies of animals who appeared to have the ability to count.

Clever Hans

The First animal we looked at and discussed was a horse names ‘Clever Hans’. In the early 1900s Clever Hans was touring with his owner Wilhelm Van Osten who was claiming the horse had the ability to count, he claimed he was able to teach it basics sums including addition, division even square roots. Hans would be able to give the answer to any question by signalling the correct number with taps of the hoof , in fact 86% of the time Van Osten asked Hans a question he was able to give the correct number of taps. It really does sound quite incredible, doesn’t it. Well after many scientists became sceptical of the horses knowledge, they began to test the legitimacy of this in various ways. One way they used to test if the horses knowledge was real or whether it was to do with something the trainer was signalling, was they made it so that the horse was unable to see Van Osten when he was asking the question. This test along with others in fact found that the reason the horse was able to tap its hoof the correct amount of times was that its owner with giving it very subtle ques of when to start and stop tapping its hoof in order to get the correct answer. So rather than being a mathematical genius Hans was simply following commands given by his owner, much like a dog being told to “sit”.

Ayumu the Chimpanzee

After Clever Hans’ unsuccessful attempt at convincing us that animals can understand numbers, we then looked at some other examples including; ants, lions, chicks and bees. Yet all of these were still unable to provide me with an answer to the lingering question “can animals count?”, but potentially the most convincing of all of these was the example of Ayumu the chimpanzee.

This study showed that when shown numbers from 1-9, the chimps were able to put them in order(to be rewarded with a peanut if they were correct). Although this initially seems to be very impressive, I then began to think surely if the chimp was just able to remember the correct order of the visual symbols they click when they receive a peanut, this doesn’t really have anything to do with the numbers or values the hold. It then goes on to show that when the numbers are flashed and then covered up quickly, the chimps can still remember and correctly order the numbers from 1-9 (this particular chimp Ayumu only got this wrong once!!). Again I was very impressed by this, but I still don’t see how this proves mathematical understanding rather than just an extremely good memory. The last test they did on Ayumu and the other chimps is what had me almost convinced, in the final test not all of the 9 numerals were shown and were covered up the same as the previous test, again the chimps were able to put the numbers in the right order despite there being some missing. This is what has me more convinced that these animals may be able to understand numbers or the idea of counting, when their is some missing it proves that the chimps are aware that some numbers always come before others .. so does this count as being able to count?

Even after looking at this within the class input and then also further in my own time, as much as I wanted to believe it I still am not quite sure if I’m quite convinced that animals can count or understand maths the way in which us humans do. I feel “can animals count?” would be a great question to ask a class of children, allowing them to use their mathematical understanding to discuss and share their own opinions and come to their own conclusions about if they think animals can understand maths, whilst still being a fun and light hearted way to approach mathematics.


Can maths be creative?

To me the obvious answer to this question was no. When I look back to my time learning maths in school my memories mainly consist of textbooks pages, worksheets, and more textbook pages. For most of us this was, and still is our experience of maths within the classroom.

According to the ‘Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study’ (IEA, 2008), 72% of Scotland’s P5 pupils were taught using a textbook as the primary resource. Also, the most common type of maths activity given in classrooms throughout Scotland is based on pupils “working quietly own your own” and from a textbook. 50% of the P5 pupils surveyed said that during most lessons they are told to work silently and individually, and 55% of children in P3 agreed (Scottish government, 2009). These figures very clearly show there is a lack of creativity in the maths lessons being taught in our classrooms.

In my experience of both being the learner and during my time on placement last year, when a lesson is not engaging, or you are not interested, it makes it very difficult to concentrate to what is being taught. If a teacher is simply standing at the front of the class explaining a new concept, the moment you lose concentration or engagement in what is being said, you then immediately shut off completely. By shutting off completely this is very likely to result in gaps in knowledge and understanding, this then leads to a cycle of losing increasingly more engagement and becoming gradually more and more lost or confused. Over time this lack of engagement and therefore lack of understanding can lead to anxieties and hatred towards the subject. I feel this can is one of the main causes of maths anxieties, which I discussed in my previous blog post.

Lampart(2009) identifies the main believes towards mathematics. Some of these include: the idea that maths problems only have one right answer, that there is only one way to solve a problem, and that most students do not expect to understand the mathematics but simply need memorise it and apply it to each question. The idea that an answer to a maths problem is either right or wrong and that you can only solve it in one way, I feel is one of the main reasons why the subject can appear to lack any creativity or room for imagination.

So how can we make maths creative and fun?

Maths and art

In one of our recent workshops with Eddie we were looking at how maths can be explored creatively, specifically through art. We discussed in this session various ways throughout history that artists have used mathematical concepts such as symmetry, tessellation and proportion to create works of art. For example, the importance of renaissance painters working out the proportions of the persons facial features in relation to face and body size by calculating mathematical ratios, the most famous painting of all time the Mona Lisa was created using these mathematical techniques.

During this input we also focused on the Islamic art technique of tessellations, and how these can be used to creatively teach geometry within a classroom. A Tessellation is a pattern of repeated shapes that fit perfectly together with no gaps spaces or overlaps. Regular tessellations are made up of only one regular shape repeated, whereas semi-regular tessellations are made up of two or more regular shapes to create a repeating pattern. Regular shapes that tessellate include: squares, hexagons and equilateral triangles. Regular shapes are those which have all their sides the same length and all the internal angles the same size, the reason these tesselate is that when all vertices meet they create a 360 degree angle.


In this input we had the chance to see how this could be done within a classroom and made our own tessellations. We were given sheets with various shapes on and were able to choose which shapes we would like our piece to consist of, we then cut these out and stuck them onto a coloured piece of card making sure there was no gaps, spaces or overlaps between the shapes and the pattern was able to be continuously repeated. We were then able to pain our shapes and make them look as colourful and creative as we wanted. I really enjoyed this activity and found it strangely relaxing, in no way did it feel like we were doing a maths task. I feel like this would be a great way in a classroom to introduce or develop geometry, as for those who dread the idea of a maths lesson or opening up a textbook this can make learning maths much more enjoyable and less terrifying. It also provides children with the opportunity to see how maths surrounds us, rather than the idea that you will never use it again once you leave school.

This workshop really opened my eyes to how maths can be made creative, and the impact this can have on the engagement of the learners, because I actually found myself enjoying a maths activity which I honesty i don’t think I have said many times in my life. Looking forward to my further development towards becoming a teacher, I think this will effect the way i look at and aim to teach mathematics in the coming years. I must continue to look for creative applications and ways to incorporate maths into the classroom that will engage and excite learners, and prove that maths really isn’t always textbooks and worksheets, it surrounds us in everything we do.



IEA (2008) Trends in Mathematics and Science Survey 2007. Lynch School of Education, Boston College: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

Lampert, M. (1990) ‘When the problem is not the problem and the solution is not the answer: Mathematical knowing and teaching’, American Research Journal, 27(1), pp.29-63

Scottish Government (2009) 2008 Scottish Survey of Achievement: Mathematics and Core Skills. Available online at: [Accessed October 2017].



Maths Anxiety

I’m sure most of us can relate to the overwhelming feeling of distress and confusion when being asked a maths question and knowing you are going to get the answer wrong, or when staring at a set of questions in a textbook and being completely clueless of where to start, sending your brain into panic mode. What exactly is this feeling? Although many of us experience this throughout our time in school, most are unaware that Maths anxiety is a recognised condition which can be overcome and prevented.

What is Maths Anxiety?

Maths anxiety can be defined as “as a feeling of tension, apprehension, or fear that interferes with math performance.” (Ashcraft, 2002) or “a general fear of contact with mathematics, including classes, homework and tests” (Hembree, 1990).

In 2012 it was found that a quarter of the UK’s population were effected by math anxiety, and 2 million children in England alone (Brain, 2012). Not only does maths anxiety effect huge numbers of children within our classrooms, many of today’s school teachers also suffer from some degree of anxiety towards mathematics.

There are various Psychical and Physiological symptoms associated with Maths Anxiety, some of which include:

  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Mind blanks
  • Inability to concentrate

What causes maths anxiety?

Maths anxiety can be caused by various different factors, and each individual who suffers with this will have their own reasons why. For many people anxieties are due to environmental factors such as school, home life parents and teachers. For some, their anxiety stems from parents attitudes or fears towards maths, if a child is brought up in a setting in which a parent has a negative attitude or feeling towards maths, it I extremely likely this will be passed on, and the child will then go into maths with the same negative attitude and concern. This is the same as if a class teacher feels negatively or has insecurities with maths, children are able to sense when a teacher is not confident with what they are teaching, and if basic principles are not taught correctly this can lead to children then lacking fundamental knowledge and confidence, leading to anxieties. Also in terms of within the classroom and the class teacher, many children’s anxiety comes from the idea of being wrong and the embarrassment of doing badly, if a child is asked a question in front of a full class and gets its wrong, this embarrassment is likely to lead to a massive loss of confidence. Children within a classroom should be made to feel comfortable in that they can always attempt a question and if they are not correct the first time this is not something they should feel ashamed off, the way to success is by making mistakes and learning from these.

 My experience with maths anxiety

For me specifically, maths anxiety was never something I suffered with or experienced throughout my time in primary school, it was a subject area which I thoroughly enjoyed and felt like I was confident in, up until secondary school maths was something I found enjoyable. It wasn’t till around my third year of high school that maths began to become an issue for me personally.  As the difficulty of what I was learning increased to much more challenging concepts and areas of maths, my confidence in my own ability severely went downhill and all enjoyment I once felt for maths was lost, walking into the maths classroom began to be the most daunting part of the day. Despite this growing stress, I chose to continue maths to Higher level, this was when maths anxiety became a massive problem for myself. One thing I remember very vividly to have affected me in terms of my confidence in maths was is being told “you will need a miracle to be able to get a pass in this subject” by my teacher at the time. From that point on I was convinced I was completely unable and therefore completely shut off and lost all concentration in the subject to avoid the distress it was bringing me. Much to my surprise I passed (luckily being over the pass mark by only 1 mark), although I was shocked and proud to have proven my teacher wrong, this result was a massive disappointment in comparison to the A I had gained at national 5 level. Due to this, the moment I stopped studying maths I was convinced I no longer needed to think about it and tried to shut it out of my life as much as possible, but due to this I now feel like I have lost most of the knowledge and ability I once had, now even relying on a calculator for simple maths sums.

Overcoming maths anxieties

According to Lee (2017), there are 6 ways as a parent or teacher that you can help a child to overcome their maths anxieties:

  1. Playing maths games – playing maths games or games centred around numbers is a great way to get children much more involved and interested in learning maths, by putting it into a fun context which they will enjoy rather than dread.
  2. Be aware of your own attitude towards maths – children are watching and learning from you, if you are expressing or giving off negative feelings towards maths rather than talking about the fun and positive applications and importance of maths, children will be aware of this and will therefore be at a disadvantage.
  3. Practising with the child – The best way to improve confidence and skill when it comes to basic maths principles is by ongoing practise. By bringing maths practise in to daily life or into other areas of the school curriculum this can significantly improve the child’s performance without explicitly doing maths.
  4. Get rid of the idea “some people are not good at maths” – This is a very important part of helping a child overcome maths anxiety, the moment they feel like they “cant do” maths is when they completely give up. We must eliminate the idea that some people simply are bad at maths.
  5. Get help early– As a teacher or parent if you see a child struggling, it is best to provide them with extra help as soon as possible to try and prevent any math anxieties developing. A good example of this is by getting an out of school tutor or even an older pupil to provide extra help for the child at certain times during the school day.
  6. Help the child to shake off mistakes – One of the best things to do is assure the child mistakes are something that will naturally happen and that are positive learning opportunities, not embarrassments.

I feel that in recent years maths anxiety has began to affect me more than it ever has especially the closer I get in my journey to becoming a teacher, and I understand this is something I must constantly be trying to overcome in order to confidently and effectively teach maths in the future, I feel my engagement with this module so far has helped me to begin to overcome this and develop an understanding of fundamental mathematics. I must now continue to build my knowledge and understanding to a point where I can teach mathematics confidently to prevent any maths anxieties i once felt to be passed on to pupils, and to also effectively help pupils overcome any anxiety they feel towards mathematics and allow them to reach their full potential.



Ashcraft, M. (2002) Math Anxiety: Personal, Educational, and Cognitive Consequences.  Available at: (Accessed: October 2017)

Brian, K. (2012) ‘Maths Anxiety: the numbers are mounting’, The Guardian, 30 April. Available at: (Accessed; October 2017)

Hembree, R. (1990) ‘The nature, effects and relief of mathematics anxiety’, Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 21, pp.33-46.

Lee, K. (2017) How You Can Help a Child Who Has Math Anxiety. Available at: (Accessed: October 2017)

Science Literacy

Science Literacy

Science literacy is having the knowledge and understanding scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making. Science literacy links to the work around us and aspects of our lives which we participate in day to day. Being scientifically literate this allows you to ask, find, determined answers to scientific questions which surrounds us. You can predict, explain and describe parts of the world. If you are scientifically literate, you can read and understand articles about science which are in the media and engage in conversations about the validity of conclusions. If you are scantily literate you are able to evaluate the quality of scientific information by commenting on the source and the methods to generate it. You can look at arguments and evaluate them based on evidence and make up a conclusion.

Scientific literacy is about having a good understanding of scientific concepts and processes which will allow you to enrich your own curiosity derived from everyday life. This is an important skill to have as it allows people to gain good judgment in terms of interpreting media coverage on science (National Science Education Standards, 1996). An example a lack of scientific literacy leading to inaccurate reporting was when Andrew Wakefield published a report of a study in a medical journal called ‘The Lancet’ in 1998 (,2013). The report suggested that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccinations can cause autism, which then created an uproar in the media causing many parents to refuse the MMR vaccine for their child. This led to many of, what could have been, avoidable cases in which children without the vaccination died of measles due to a now discredited doctor that didn’t do enough accurate research before publishing his study and because of the media blowing up the report. However, as the National Science Education Standards (1996) states that being scientifically literate means being able to read with understanding, articles about science in the popular press and to engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions. Therefore, many could also fault the scientifically illiterate parents for being unable to weigh up the small chance of their child possibly developing autism, which had still not been fully proven, with the importance of the immunisation against an often fatal disease.

Having an understanding of fair testing is critical to a child’s learning. It is important to be able to carry out experiments fairly, and to be able to draw conclusions based on evidence from these experiments. All this adds to the child’s scientific literacy. For example, if there was an experiment testing the growth of a plant, only one variable can be changed to make it fair testing. If you were to keep one in light and one in the dark, then every other variable must stay the same. So, the plants must receive the same amount of water; have the same soil depth; be the same size etc. If more than one variable is changed, then you cannot have a conclusive answer to what affected the growth of the plant. Becoming aware of the variables and how they play a part in the experiment is key to understanding fair testing. Fair testing is vital to scientific literacy, and is therefore an incredibly important aspect in the school curriculum.

Jacqueline Edmond, Caitlin Tindal, Beth Pettigrew & Rebecca Dillon

Why teaching?

My decision to study and become a teacher is based on various different factors. For as long as I can remember teaching and being a teacher always excited me as what I wanted to be when I grew up. As stereotypical and cheesy as that sounds, when I was younger my favourite thing to was always to play schools and have everyone sitting on the floor while I read stories over and over or recited the alphabet multiple times. Although even as a young girl teaching was what I wanted to do, throughout my years at both primary school and high school there has been many other factors which have led to the overall decision to make this my career path.

Over my years at primary school I had a mixture of teachers who used different styles and ways of teaching, some of which I liked and admired as a pupil and others not so much. But particularly my teacher I had in P7 has had a lasting influence on me and my decision to be a teacher. I admired the way in which she made lessons interesting and exciting every day for the whole class and all abilities, she made the classroom a relaxed and social environment without losing the fact it was also a place where learning was most important and boundaries were still very clear. Most of all as a pupil I felt she always made her pupils feel comfortable to share or discuss any problems or concerns. During my time in her class I very much looked up to her and admired the way she taught and I still do, this has made me want to also make this sort of lasting impact on others the way she did.

As I have got older I have begun to think deeper into teaching and the importance that it holds within our society. I feel as though this job specifically is very rewarding in many ways, whether it is day to day as you see a child’s excitement of learning something new or getting an answer correct, or over long term when in years’ time you see the adults which the children you taught have become. As a teacher you have the opportunity to change or influence someone else’s future and that in itself is draws me to the job. This is now one of the main reasons I know teaching is what I want to do, I want to be able to make a difference and to help shape someone else’s future, and maybe even make a lasting effect on others the way my teacher did to me.