Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Maths teaching not a zero-sum game

Thursday, February 28, 2013
Maths teaching not a zero-sum game

Training specialist maths teachers for primary and intermediate level in new teaching models would improve Kiwi kids’ results more effectively than focusing on memorising times tables, says a Massey University maths teaching expert.

Professor Glenda Anthony, who is championing an innovative approach to mathematics teacher education in a three-year government-funded research project, says maths teachers need to take a balanced approach by ensuring students understand mathematical concepts and structures, as well as remembering basic facts.

She was commenting on the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), in which New Zealand nine year-olds scored last-equal in basic maths, with many unable to add or subtract simple numbers. The results prompted Education Minister Hekia Parata to consider a return to a back-to-basics approach, it was reported.

Professor Anthony, co-director of the Centre of Excellence for Research in Mathematics Education at the University’s Institute of Education, says it was a concern that New Zealand’s students showed a decline in mathematical performance as measured by the recent TIMSS results.

“But suggestions that we should prioritise basic facts learning ahead of understanding and exploring the wider mathematics curriculum areas are misguided,” she says. “An undue focus on a ‘back-to-basics’ movement will only serve to perpetuate the myth that learning mathematics is about speed and memory, a skill obtainable by a ‘smart’ few. If we truly want to encourage all children to learn mathematics we need new forms of teaching that empower them as active sense-makers of mathematics.”

“We need to aim for a balanced approach that supports learners with multiple strands of mathematical action—understanding, fluency, problem solving, reasoning, and confidence.

Countering underachievement in mathematics is challenging, and one that requires new teaching models and resourcing, she says. She is working with 75 primary school teachers to develop new skills, and believes children at intermediate level especially would benefit from having specialist maths teachers.

The inquiry-based model she has researched is widely favoured in most Western countries. But teachers require greater opportunities for professional development in maths education, something the New Zealand education system does not provide enough of, she says.

She and colleague Dr Roberta Hunter have had success in raising achievement in low¬-decile classrooms, where children work on mathematical problems tasks collaboratively, with teachers “orchestrating” mathematical discussion and reasoning to enhance understanding.

Dr Hunter is currently working with schools in Pasifika communities in Auckland to develop inquiry and group-based mathematical practices – a method based on her doctoral research and endorsed by the Ministry of Education, and which has produced significant improvements. Next month she travels to Singapore to work with their Ministry of Education to introduce the programme there.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Werewolf: Katniss Joins The News Team

From the outset, the Hunger Games series has dwelt obsessively on the ways that media images infiltrate our public and personal lives... From that grim starting point, Mockingjay Part One takes the process a few stages further. There is very little of the film that does not involve the characters (a) being on screens (b) making propaganda footage to be screened and (c) reacting to what other characters have been doing on screens. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Ko Witi Te Kaituhituhi

Witi Ihimaera, the distinguished Māori author and the first Māori to publish a book of short stories and a novel, has adopted a new genre with his latest book. But despite its subtitle, this book is a great deal more than a memoir of childhood. More>>

Werewolf: Rescuing Paul Robeson

Would it be any harder these days, for the US government to destroy the career of a famous American entertainer and disappear them from history – purely because of their political beliefs? You would hope so. In 1940, Paul Robeson – a gifted black athlete, singer, film star, Shakespearean actor and orator – was one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. More>>

ALSO:

"Not A Competition... A Quest": Chapman Tripp Theatre Award Winners

Big winners on the night were Equivocation (Promising Newcomer, Best Costume, Best Director and Production of the Year), Kiss the Fish (Best Music Composition, Outstanding New NZ Play and Best Supporting Actress), and Watch (Best Set, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Performance). More>>

ALSO:

Film Awards: The Dark Horse Scores Big

An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach Genesis Potini, made all the right moves to take out top honours along with five other awards at the Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards - nicknamed The Moas. More>>

ALSO:

Theatre: Ralph McCubbin Howell Wins 2014 Bruce Mason Award

The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Ralph McCubbin Howell at the Playmarket Accolades in Wellington on 23 November 2014. More>>

ALSO:

One Good Tern: Fairy Tern Crowned NZ Seabird Of The Year

The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin. More>>

Music Awards: Lorde Reigns Supreme

Following a hugely successful year locally and internationally, Lorde has done it again taking out no less than six Tuis at the 49th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news