'In the 90s, children were in a maths haze'

26th May 2006 at 01:00
Rebecca Davidson, a maths co-ordinator and Year 6 teacher at Southway primary in Plymouth, is a fan of "non-standard" methods.

She said she did not expect these techniques to be banned, and would have serious reservations if she were told that all children should focus on only one calculation method.

She said: "If I were told that in Year 6 I had to consistently use the standard method as opposed to having the option of using non-standard methods I would feel that wasn't providing children with enough opportunities or choices. Non-standard methods allow children to develop a depth of understanding of their calculations that the standard method does not allow all children.

"I spend a lot of time using non-standard methods in the classroom. The children have got to understand what is happening in a process, and there are a lot of methods, like the grid method, that give them good opportunities to do that.

"Methods like the grid system are fantastic. It's a process and gives them time to check the plausibility of an answer."

She said that teachers should be free to teach methods which they found were most appropriate for their children. "For children to be able to apply mathematical understanding they have to have that understanding in the first place. I teach both methods, but give them options.

"For any child to improve, the teacher has to develop his or her own style.

You have to feel confident and secure in what you are doing. If you are being told that you have to use a particular method, that is going to pose some difficulties for some children.

"In the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s some children were in a mathematical haze (as a result of) very rigid processes of rote learning and none of us want to go back to that."

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