MECS Blog

Focus on Mathematics

Focus on Mathematics

Thursday, 25 June 2015  | Jenny - Secondary Mathematics Teacher
What a joy when I arrived to look after my grandchildren last Friday to be greeted by Abbi (4 years old), jumping up and down outside the front door, excited to see Nenny and Pampa driving in. An even greater delight when I got out of the car to find she was calling out, “I can do Mathematics with you!” In we went and out came her box of ‘Mathematics’ and straight away we got down on the floor and started doing the puzzles. I had been working with her older brother to help him gain a little bit more confidence in his Grade 6 Maths and Abbi couldn’t understand why she couldn’t join in with this special time. She was determined to find out what this Mathematics was all about. What a unique opportunity for me to have some involvement in her new interest in this subject.

As I talk to parents about mathematics I find they fall into two distinct camps: those who remember their school experience of mathematics as something they really enjoyed and so feel confident enough to try to help their children; and then there are those who were glad to leave mathematics far behind and never see it again! The latter group often feel they have nothing to offer their children when they see them struggle.

Encouragement and support are key in all learning and even if mathematics is not your area, you can still make a difference by showing interest in your child’s work. Expectations can lay heavy burdens on students but giving praise along the way can make a strong impact on the process of learning.

Mathematics as a subject is not just about learning concepts, but also developing curiosity about pattern and finding ways of modelling our world which God created.Quite often as adults our own experience of skills-based learning has strongly influenced the way we approach learning in mathematics. Burger and Starbird in their book, “The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking”, present the picture of a dodecahedron to illustrate their approach to thinking in Mathematics. “The mirrored-faced dodecahedron (a 12-sided regular solid) reflects how mathematics allows us to see and understand our world with greater clarity. It also illustrates how mathematics allows us to abstract nature and see the world in new ways. Finally, the mirrored-face in front reflects the power of mathematics to help us see ourselves with greater focus and fresh dimensions.” There is something exciting in the feel of this description of mathematics. It shows us the beauty of this subject and points us to our Creator.
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