Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - Feed Pupils a Varied Diet: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Maths - Feed Pupils a Varied Diet: Resources

Article excerpt

From Michelin-starred lessons to the equivalent of beans on toast.

If your house is anything like ours, everything stops for The Great British Bake Off, when Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and their contestants hold us rapt. Last month's Red Nose Day series, The Great Comic Relief Bake Off, also made for great viewing.

But I recall television cook Delia Smith announcing the results of a survey she had undertaken: the average household possesses cookbooks that contain 1,500 recipes, yet only 35 of them are ever attempted. Of the estimated 171 million cookbooks in Britain, 61 million are said to remain unopened. And two-thirds of respondents were honest enough to confess that their cookery books were kept for show rather than with any practical use in mind. In a world where many are starving that seems somehow sacrilegious.

The statistic also made me consider the teaching publications I have at home, and what percentage of activities from them make it into my classroom. I feel a little queasy when I think of all those good intentions trapped between the covers of improving books on my laden shelves. I may possess 1,500 lesson plans, yet do I rely on just 35 to get me through most years? I am surrounded by cordon bleu advice for turning my lessons into gourmet maths, yet do I usually serve up beans on toast? If maths classrooms were awarded Michelin stars, would I win one? Or would Uncle Jonny's Greasy Spoon sum up my establishment rather better?

The truth is that no one can teach cordon bleu maths lessons all day, every day. Nor, in fact, would that be desirable. …

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