At the heart of maths teaching are two goals.
First of all, to develop in our pupils a lively and interested mind, who approach maths as an interesting, varied and challenging area of learning.
Secondly to give them the tools to function as numerate members of society.
A bare outline of topics covered can never do justice to many of the more intangible aims and objectives of mathematics teaching. Many of these more general aims are set out below and give insight into the way that the basic syllabus is taught. Children are encouraged to develop:
- a positive attitude to maths as an interesting and elegant subject;
- an appreciation of the creative aspects of the subject;
- an ability to think clearly, logically and independently in mathematics;
- an understanding of the subject through a process of enquiry;
- an appreciation of the nature of number and space;
- an appreciation of mathematical patterns and the ability to identify relationships;
- mathematical skills and knowledge accompanied by the quick recall of basic facts;
- the ability to develop and refine mental strategies for quick calculations
- an awareness of the uses of mathematics outside the classroom;
- vocabulary suitable for expressing mathematical ideas.
Such a list of goals is not exhaustive and can easily become a description of how the maths department ought to function rather than a description of what really happens. In order to prevent this from becoming the case it is essential that pupils be presented with a wide variety of mathematical experiences and teaching styles. How the teaching and learning that takes place at Sandroyd contributes to each of the areas outlined above is considered below:
a) develop a positive attitude to maths as an interesting and elegant subject;
This is at the heart of what we are trying to achieve. More than anything else the teacher’s enthusiasm for the subject rapidly communicates itself to pupils. Similarly the use of lively, interesting and well-produced materials and texts is of considerable importance. Positive feedback and comments in exercise books are also encouraged.
b) develop an appreciation of the creative aspects of the subject
Much is made of the fact that mathematics is about the analysis of patterns not simply dealing with numbers. Cross-curricular links with other departments help to achieve this. A good deal of work is done on symmetry, tessellation and other topics considered under the shape and space heading. In addition creative imagination is required in problem solving and much investigative work both of which are central to the curriculum. This is particularly true in the scholarship forms.
c) develop ability to think clearly, logically and independently in mathematics;
Once again the proper use of investigative material should ensure that these aims ate fulfilled. Although not formally bound by government initiatives, the teaching of mathematics is keen to employ the best ideas that are developed through research and trials. The Abacus Evolve scheme provides strong support for pupils who are prepared to take responsibility for their own learning and it is the policy of the department to set frequent Preps which require independent thought.
- develop an understanding of the subject through a process of enquiry;
- develop an appreciation of the nature of number and space;
- develop an appreciation of mathematical patterns and the ability to identify relationships;
d), e) and f). These areas are covered as outlined in the detailed schemes of work for each year group. This ensures that proper prominence is given to then aims.
- develop mathematical skills and knowledge accompanied by the quick recall of basic facts;
The learning of tables is regarded as particularly important in the junior forms and regular mental tests are given to all forms. A mental test is part of all mathematical exams except for the scholars in Year 8.
- develop the ability to refine mental strategies for quick calculations
The numeracy framework emphasised the importance of teaching mental strategies to pupils. This is central to the curriculum in Years 3 to 6. In senior forms a high standard of mental skill is expected but the emphasis is placed more on the teaching of mathematics than arithmetic.
- develop an awareness of the uses of mathematics outside the classroom;
The problems set draw attention in a wide variety of ways to the uses of mathematics outside the classroom.
- develop vocabulary suitable for expressing mathematical ideas.
In order to develop a suitable mathematical vocabulary pupils are encouraged to use proper mathematical terms a far as is possible. A vocabulary sheet and spelling sheet is pasted into each child’s exercise book and the junior forms have developed a ‘Word of the Week’ approach for improving mathematical vocabulary.