“Mathematics is the art of explanation.” - Paul Lockhart, A Mathematician's Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form
At the core of Route 39 Academy’s vision are two key concepts - knowing each student well, and designing the curriculum so that it is engaging and relevant. Our maths approach has taken both these things to heart, seizing the opportunity to rethink the pace and content of lessons.
More time is spent on each topic than would be allowed for traditionally. For instance, fractions are taught over six weeks, rather than the more typical two. Students gain a good grasp of a topic, building confidence and experience. Although topics will be revisited in future years, they will not need to be retaught, as the concepts will be firmly embedded.
Stage not Age
Some students join the Academy with a very good grounding in Maths. These students join ‘Challenge Maths’ which allows them to start the GCSE curriculum immediately. The ‘Challenge Maths’ group is a diverse group of students from age 11-15. It is the level they are at that matters, not their age.
Other students may struggle with understanding numbers. In 2013 an exchange was set up with Bradworthy Academy – a local primary school. Miss James spent Friday mornings at the school, experiencing how to teach maths at a lower level. In exchange, she was able to share her maths specialism with the primary school teachers to stretch Bradworthy students who needed extending and challenging.
Failure as Part of Success
Questioning and problem-solving are important skills for all subjects – but especially maths. Many of the students initially panic when they come across maths questions they can’t answer. Our approach is to lead students through the challenge and give them strategies to overcome their frustration.
What does this look like in practice? “Well, you don’t throw down your pen and moan ‘I can’t do it’. Instead you turn to your partner and see if you can learn from them,” explains Miss James, “Many of the students have been used to being spoon-fed – I challenge them to think independently and use each other.” The ultimate aim is for the classroom to be a supportive place where failure is seen as an important part of learning.
For more information contact Mrs Jo Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org