Belhaven Hill School

Co-ed Boarding & Day School for ages 5-13

Marmite Maths

Marmite Maths

It used to be the subject we loved or hated, says Emma Reed [writing in School House Magazine] – but new approaches are adding up to renewed interest.

This is an extract from this informative feature in School House Magazine.

Maths can be one of those subjects that provokes a strong reaction: people either love it or hate it. That feeling often continues well into adulthood. Many of us can recall learning by rote and wondering how the more abstract concepts had any application to real life (guess which camp I was in?). However, teaching methods have moved on and these, along with advances in technology, mean that pupils are not only gaining confidence in maths, they are excelling.

…One of the challenges Miller [Alex Miller, head of maths at Merchant Taylors’ School] sees is persuading the boys of the importance of writing things down. ‘The nature of primary school maths is based a lot around mental arithmetic, so they think success in maths is to be able to do calculations mentally and quickly. They can often hit a low point in maths around the middle years as the nature of maths changes and they’re not used to writing their working down.’

The other big shift Miller notes is the use of technology in maths, something he was keen on prior to the pandemic making it a necessity. The use of the touchscreen and the stylus has revolutionised the ability to do maths efficiently on a screen. Applications such as OneNote ensure that all resources and worksheets are easily available for everyone to access and progress.

Where technology really comes into its own, he says, is being able to demonstrate maths in motion, whether it’s a graph being drawn or an algebraic equation. This view is echoed by Katie Gale, head of maths at Belhaven Hill School. "We’ve had interactive whiteboards and we’ve moved across to Apple TVs now. When you can demonstrate things visually such as reflections, pupils can find that invaluable. We’ve got iPads in school and the children can use the Apps to practise times tables."

Gale also comments on the importance of problem-solving skills, and to this end, she finds that lessons are much more discursive. "We do a lot of talking where pupils learn to explain why they think their answer is right. I try to lead by investigation and relate things to the world outside. We’ll go outside, find circular shapes and work on area and circumference."

 

You can read the full article on the School House website here.