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

 
Scoop Review Of Books: The Typewriter Factory

I finished reading Don’t Dream It’s Over not long after it came out last August. I even started writing a review, which took something of an ‘I’m sorry people, but it’s already over’ approach. I’ve been pretty negative about journalism as it’s practiced in the mainstream (or MSM, or corporate media or liberal media or whatever terminology you prefer) for quite some time (see for example Stop the Press), and I believe the current capitalist media model is destructive and can’t be reformed. More>>

Sheep Update: Solo World Shearing Record Broken In Southland

Southland shearer Leon Samuels today set a new World solo eight-hours strongwool ewe-shearing after a tally of 605 in a wool shed north of Gore. More>>

ALSO:

Howard Davis Review: Dick Frizzell At The Solander Gallery

One of the most influential and celebrated contemporary Pop artists working in New Zealand, Dick Frizzell is mostly known for his appropriation of kitsch Kiwiana icons, which he often incorporates into cartoon-like paintings and lithographs. Not content with adhering to one particular style, he likes to adopt consciously unfashionable styles of painting, in a manner reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein. More>>

Old Music: Pop Icon Adam Ant Announces NZ Tour

Following his recent sold out North American and UK tours, Adam Ant is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the release of his landmark KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER album with a newly-remastered reissue (Sony Legacy) and Australasian tour. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Looking Back

Writing a memoir that appeals to a broad readership is a difficult undertaking. As an experienced communicator, Lloyd Geering keeps the reader’s interest alive through ten chapters (or portholes) giving views of different aspects of his life in 20th-century New Zealand. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Purple (and Violet) Prose

This is the second recent conjoint publication by Reeve and Stapp; all to do with esoteric, arcane and obscure vocabulary – sesquipedalian, anyone – and so much more besides. Before I write further, I must stress that the book is an equal partnership between words and images and that one cannot thrive without the other. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news