Mathematics is a subject which is generally regarded as being very important within the curriculum both for its significance in gaining entry to employment and further/higher education and for its use in other school subjects. Regrettably it is a subject in which students consistently perform poorly in national examinations. This is a real challenge for those entering teaching, who are amongst the relatively successful students in the subject.
To become an effective teacher requires us to revisit the nature of the subject and to work towards an understanding of what learning mathematics involves and why it is problematic for many people. Too often students simply learn techniques which they cannot apply in the real world. This is to sell them short and to misrepresent what mathematics can offer them. Mathematics has been described as a way of looking at the world and for dealing with certain kinds of problems.
As a subject it has a rich history which is seldom shared with students. It represents one of the greatest human achievements over the centuries with contributions from many parts of the world - East and West, North and South.
A vision of the subject’s power and beauty together with its utility provides a strong starting point for thinking about teaching mathematics to students in school. We shall look at the ideas and practice of others, we will share our thinking and experience and work to develop our own understanding of teaching and, of course, our skills in the classroom.