Rethinking School Mathematics
How the publisher describes it:
“Why is it that so many pupils are put off by maths, seeing it as uninspiring and irrelevant, and that so many choose to drop it as soon as they can? Why is it socially acceptable to be bad at maths? Does the maths curriculum really prepare pupils for life?”
Review by Colin Foster
“Challenges our well-worn reasons for teaching and learning mathematics”
Andy Noyes has been a familiar face at recent BSRLM meetings, where he has described his fascinating Geographies of Mathematical Attainment and Participation project, analysing huge datasets to track the causes of UK learners’ varied involvement in school mathematics.
In Rethinking School Mathematics, he brings his considerable descriptive and analytical skills to bear on all of the most pressing issues for UK mathematics education today. This is an important book that should be read by every student on an initial teacher training course for mathematics and by every practising mathematics teacher. Andy challenges our well-worn reasons for teaching and learning mathematics and sets his thoughts in the context of the numerous changes imposed in recent years. He deftly describes recent educational research, punctuating the text periodically with demanding questions for the reader to consider. Ever personal, he addresses the reader directly, inviting email correspondence as early as the end of the introduction.
The book divides into two sections. The first sets out the current state of mathematics education, particularly from a social and political perspective. He discusses what goes on in the classroom, referring, for instance, to a Year 6 lesson in which “the class teacher told a boy to stop talking during his mathematics work because ‘you can’t talk and do mathematics at the same time’!”. No aspect of mathematics education escapes Andy’s questioning critical approach. He constantly looks to how all learners can be engaged in worthwhile mathematics.
In the second part of the book, he offers many detailed suggestions, adapted from examples in the literature or from his own recent classroom experience. Andy promotes an open-ended approach to learning mathematics, describing a mathematician as “an ‘explorer’ in an unknown and unpredictable landscape, rather than a ‘ladder-climber’ ascending predetermined, equally spaced NC rungs!”.
This book takes an approach very much in harmony with the aims of ATM. It will provoke us to think more about how all learners can learn mathematics better. I found myself putting the book down to think at many points as Andy highlighted something I find myself uneasy about in my own practice. At just over 100 pages, there is every reason to get hold of a copy and read it as soon as possible.
Colin Foster • King Henry VIII School, Coventry, UK
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd (21 May 2007)
Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.8 x 1 cm