Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

Gc Reports

Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

Gc Reports

Article excerpt

BCME8- April 2014

Where to start? So many things I could say. Perhaps the first over-riding thought was 'How did I manage to be doing a session in the first slot and where on earth is the Rutland library? That was quickly banished by the opening plenary from Robert Winston whose narrative about the Savannah and its needs and challenges has informed much of my advice to new teachers over the years. Don't ask! He talked about how the human brain has not changed for 80 000 years and contrasted that with how much has changed in terms of what we do with it. The complexity of the human brain is immense with 100 billion neurons, each with between 2000 and 150 000 connections to other neurons. He talked about the importance of repetition and imitation for learning, which sounded a little behaviourist but, upon reflection, I decided that it also fitted with a constructivist paradigm. Repetition involves reusing pathways in the brain, but on different occasions, so not 50 examples in a single lesson! Imitating how some-one works mathematically is also a very sound idea. It was simply a wonderful experience both to see, and hear Robert Winston, in person.

The setting at the East Midlands Conference Centre, full of blossom in every direction, as well as sunshine, was inspiring, together with the challenge of the mini-initiative tests finding the buildings, since my sense of direction seems to have deserted me along with my ability to read a map. I blame Google Earth.

Of the sessions I attended, the treat of working alongside Malcolm Swan, my hero since the mid 80s when I met the 'Shell Centre boxes', stands out as a highlight which was only equalled by listening to him in the closing plenary. His interpretation of the new curriculum will definitely be shared with colleagues in Cornwall. Sue Hough's workshop about RME resonated with much of the work I have been doing recently too. …

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