Educational Elixar

Iddir's Ideas and thoughts on all things Educational !

In the beginning…




I think to lay the foundations for this post I need to start at the beginning  with my own thoughts, experiences and aspirations.

Maybe it was growing up in the school system of the 80’s and 90’s or perhaps it was the teachers that shaped my views on the subject of mathematics,  either way, I hold deep routed feelings of fear when my children bring home the MATH homework. Every week as the homework day draws closer I pray it is understandable!

In the not so distant past my delightful ten year old brought home his homework and the words that most parents dread emerged from his lips… “mum can you help…”  (cue the beads of sweat on the brow)      Of course the dutiful parent that I am replied with somewhat forced confidence   “of course honey , what do you need help with…”

Improper fractions.


Now, a quick scan of the homework confirmed my worst fear, I had genuinely forgotten the very basics of working out how to change from improper to proper fractions.  In my defense it had been a few decades since I had had the need to know this information. I quickly slipped into teacher mode and replied  “well son, why don’t you tell me  what you are having problems with and lets see if we can work it out together ! ”

After a brief discussion it turned out that actually he knew exactly what to do and taught me, or rather reminded me, how to tackle them.

At this point I think it would be fair to say that google is a friend…

My earliest recollections of mathematics in primary school are of standing in front of my desk, being pointed at with a meter stick and told to recite various times tables. During this time there was no set curriculum and teachers had almost a free reign over what and how they taught.

This method of rote learning would never be seen in today’s classroom… or is it ?

The teacher scared the living daylights out of most of her class, the typical “teacher type” , below the knee skirts, blouses with funny tie things at the neck and a bun so severely pulled back if it had not been for the enormous bun you would have thought she was wearing a swim cap! Surprisingly I really liked this teacher (despite the pointing) and I think this is in part down to her being extremely talented and creative during art,music and drama lessons. All of which I enjoyed and continue to enjoy today.  Maths on the other hand …not so much.

Moving on through the primary years I remember primary 6 and 7 and the orange and purple math books. Those I am sure were the Scottish Primary Math scheme which Hienemann took over and rewrote.

The competition to be in the purple group was immense and surprisingly despite my fear and self doubting I actually was in the top group.

Throughout high school, education was undergoing a reform with the introduction of the 5-14 curriculum. There was a similar pattern emerging for myself and although I was competent at completing tasks I never enjoyed math class and subsequently became disengaged with the learning. Surprisingly though, I  left with a decent standard grade.

To this day, Math is an area that I am not at my most comfortable with yet I strongly feel this is entirely down to my own experiences throughout my schooling. Having identified this as an area of development I am confident that I can overcome the fear and dread and be able to, one day,  say …

Math is fun !


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