For some, just the word, ‘mathematics’ can bring on a cold sweat and panic. I grew up with the feeling that ‘mathematics’ was just too scary for me to conquer. But conquer it I did! I left university with a Bachelor of Education degree with mathematics as the major. (My Mum still doesn’t believe me!!)
As a teacher I recognise and relate to this negative reaction to mathematics.
Like so many other things, learning mathematics is a step by step process. The components are so varied though, it can be daunting to imagine teaching it to children who are already ‘anti-maths’
In my opinion there are three components to mathematics which are the ‘core’ to be able to get through life successfully.
- Place Value
Time and money are really stand alone topics (although money can be related to place value)but learning place value can cross so many areas of mathematics. With an understanding of place value, other areas of mathematics such as, calculation, money, algebra and measures seem to fall into place.
When I was at school, place value was called hundreds, tens and units which is probably a more familiar term. I like using ‘place value’ as I believe that it covers so much more than the basic hundreds, tens and units.
Teaching about place value to ‘maths anxious’ children can be a daunting and, in some cases, an unpleasant experience. This is where using a ‘scaffold to learning’ becomes invaluable. Taking children step by step through the process ensuring that each area is understood works wonders for a deep understanding of place value.
I can understand teachers having an issue with this tactic as they are under pressure from all sides to have covered all areas of the curriculum as well as ensuring all the children are reaching the ‘given level’ at the ‘given time’.
I stress, again, learning is not a race and putting that pressure onto teachers and children is counter-productive.
I am producing the learning steps for each area of mathematics to help teachers, parents, home-tutors, self learners etc, see the path that needs to be taken.
Along with this, I am including some resources which I feel make learning place value ten times easier (notice the pun); Base 10 or Dienes Blocks being an absolute must.
Are there areas of maths you feel weren’t covered properly when you were a child at school? It would be interesting to hear your opinions about your mathematics learning experiences.