Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

From ATM's Professional Officer

Magazine article Mathematics Teaching

From ATM's Professional Officer

Article excerpt

Geoff Faux, on page 11 of this issue of MT, writes 'In ATM we are good at mathematics teaching but bad at polities'. He refers to the Cockcroft report as 'polities'. Government reports make statements which the profession has to interpret and translate into what teachers might do to help young people learn mathematics. There is much politics to convert into good mathematics teaching at the moment, with the publication of two potentially far-reaching reports: Making mathematics count (Adrian Smith) and 14-19 Curriculum and qualifications reform (Mike Tomlinson). As I write this, the Tomlinson report is about to be published. And Celia Hoyles has just been appointed as the new Chief Adviser for Mathematics to the government. What should ATM be saying to Celia Hoyles about these reports? How can ATM help to ensure that any structural changes that are implemented at a national level will actually benefit learners of mathematics? How can ATM support teachers who have to manage all these changes?

Political reports are packed with ideas but are short on practical details. ATM criticised the now well-respected Cockcroft report for this (see page 28) and said that 'there is little known, or at least agreed, about how teachers change their practice'. Twenty years later, do we know any more? I was struck by Kath Cross's comment that all the things that were important in the sixties when we started teaching are still important now (page 4). That is how it is for me, despite thinking that I should have got better at understanding what was going on in my pupils' heads during my 35 years in the classroom. Maybe I got better at guessing and having a feel for what I could say to help and what I should not say; but I could never be sure. Pupils were always surprising me - to echo another story from Kath. That is why we must continue always to work hard at putting pupils - as far as is possible - in charge of their own learning. …

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