Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Let There Be Light Bulbs

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Let There Be Light Bulbs

Article excerpt

I've just had a light-bulb moment. Years ago, a headteacher taught me a quick method for multiplying a two-digit number by 11: you add the two digits of the number being multiplied, then insert the answer in between them. The kids love it; they see it as a magic trick. In all honesty, so did I until recently. But as I was explaining it to my class this week I suddenly realised why it works.

All teachers recognise light-bulb moments - when something clicks for a child and you can almost hear the cogs whirring as they finally nod in understanding. These moments are not just the domain of the children; teachers have just as many, if not more.

I love learning new stuff. After years in teaching, I have concluded that I would make an ideal pupil - sitting through someone else's lesson is pretty much my ideal way to spend an afternoon (my social life clearly needs an overhaul). Sadly, like most of the children I teach, I didn't feel this way at their age. Dozens of topics remained an enigma to me until I had to teach them years later.

I can now tell you what the surface area of the Moon is, at what temperature gold becomes a liquid and what, in detail, was found in Tutankhamun's tomb. My times tables are in great shape and I have just figured out why triangular numbers are so called (I'm a natural mathematician like Edna Everage is a natural dame).

Barely a week goes by when I don't learn something new and yet I very rarely hear subject knowledge discussed. …

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