Raising Achievement in Secondary Mathematics

Raising Achievement in Secondary Mathematics

Raising Achievement in Secondary Mathematics

Raising Achievement in Secondary Mathematics

Synopsis

This book brings together research and professional knowledge to enhance the teaching of lower attaining students in secondary mathematics. Attainment in mathematics is an important social issue, since underachievement can make a difference to future life choices, particularly amongst certain groups of students. Raising Achievement in Secondary Mathematics shows how well-meant teaching strategies and approaches can in practice exacerbate underachievement in maths by making inappropriate demands on learners. As well as criticizing some of the teaching and grouping practices that are considered normal in many schools, the book also offers an alternative view of attainment and capability, based on real classroom incidents in which 'low attaining students' show themselves to be able to think about mathematics in quite sophisticated ways. The author argues that teaching could be based on learners' proficiency, rather than on correcting deficits in knowledge and behaviour. She describes how a group of teachers who believed that their students could do better with higher expectations developed a range of principles and strategies to support their work ndash; the students showed significant progress and the teachers felt they were doing a better job. With numerous case studies, ideas and teaching strategies, this book is for anyone who is teaching, or learning to teach, mathematics.

Excerpt

This book arises from personal research and reflection on practice over about 20 years.

This opening sentence might cause several contrasting reactions for readers. I can imagine you thinking 'it is unlikely to be of relevance to me' or 'it isn't proper research then' or 'I don't need an account of your personal navel-gazing', for example. If you are still reading, it may be because you recognize, as I do, that all theorizing about mathematics education is to some extent a personal version by the author. Perhaps you have enjoyed reading about mathematics education when the author's voice is explicitly personal and the research is obviously guided by personal development. Personal knowledge is valid; it offers more opportunities for access, acceptance or rejection than depersonalized reports of research and practice can do. From Henri Poincare's reports of the power of intuition (Hadamard 1945) to short reports of exploration such as can be found in professional journals, we can relate personally to practitioners' insights into mathematics, research and teaching and then, once hooked, search for their value to us, and, if we want it, rigour.

Rigour, while being an essential feature of research which is intended to offer generalities, does not necessarily give rise to the pragmatic knowledge appreciated and taken up by practitioners. Indeed, the level of rigour demanded by the research world often fails to give authentic accounts of classrooms and learning, since these are complex places and processes with many ephemeral characteristics.

What I write is synthesized from 13 years of teaching in schools which served relatively socially deprived areas of cities, followed by 10 years of research, pre-service teaching, and professional development work in secondary mathematics. During that time I have been privileged to work alongside several significant thinkers. Anyone active in mathematics education could write their own list of influences, but it may be more usual to do this in acknolwedgements, not a first chapter, and I have included a list there as well. My excuse for doing it here is that it situates some central . . .

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