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Lessons learned from maths lessons: Things we have learned from watching trainee teachers of secondary mathematics           

Lessons learned from maths lessons

‘This is a book about teaching mathematics in schools. There are many excellent books about teaching mathematics that are driven by pedagogy, psychology or research. This book is different. It is driven by the mathematics that underpins the school mathematics curriculum, informed by the authors’ experiences and opinions.’

Lessons learned from maths lessons: Things we have learned from watching trainee teachers of secondary mathematics by Keith Parramore and Joan Stephens, published by John Catt Educational, leads maths teachers through important aspects of the mathematics curriculum, with observations and advice from their years of experience supporting trainee teachers. Their aim is to promote an approach to teaching mathematics which empowers pupils and develops understanding.

In the field of pedagogy, there are no fixed ‘knowns’, no right or wrong answers.  Mathematics, however, has firm foundations on which the authors build their advice.

Trainee teachers of mathematics often identify specific topic areas that they perceive they need to develop. The husband-and-wife team – both practising mathematicians – argue that there is a greater need for trainees to develop depth rather than breadth, to explore the mathematical foundations of what they are teaching.

The book covers number, algebra, shape and space, mathematical modelling, probability and statistics and problem-solving, with additional interludes into the meaning of ‘equals’, mathematics beyond number, and exponentials and logarithms. The final chapter discusses practical work and the use of technology, from Excel to YouTube. An addendum looks at the practicalities of teaching for mastery in mathematics.

Each chapter is followed by a ‘thinkometer’ (think-om-eter) section in two parts. The reader is initially asked to reflect on observations about the approaches used, and place them on a scale as to whether they encourage pupils’ responses to be ‘mechanical’ or ‘thoughtful’ and to consider alternative ways to address the maths. This is followed by comments and suggestions from Keith and Joan, based on successful teaching gleaned from their extensive experiences and observations. ‘Lessons learned from maths lessons’ is founded on classroom maths, rather than academic reasoning substantiated by research. Each chapter closes with a summary of key points to consider.

Commenting on the book, Keith and Joan said,

‘We all have to teach algorithmic approaches, but we want the balance of maths teaching to shift towards treating pupils as trainee mathematicians, not as computers waiting to be programmed. Rather than being ‘mechanical’ or ‘algorithmic’, maths teaching should challenge pupils to explore and think, with precision in communication going hand-in-glove with thinking.’

To find out more about ‘Lessons learned from maths lessons: Things we have learned from watching trainee teachers of secondary mathematics’, by Keith Parramore and Joan Stephens, priced at just £16, please click here.

By Keith Parramore and Joan Stephens

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