Be a mathematical thinker

11th February 2005 at 00:00
It is not easy to do, but Shaftesbury primary in east London has succeeded not only in making maths real, but in celebrating the home cultures of many of its children's 41 countries - through knitting.

Integrating maths across the curriculum is tricky, says Tim Coulson, director of the National Numeracy Strategy. While primary schools have made great strides in combining English with other subjects, it is less obvious how maths links in.

"The NNS ought to provide a few examples," he says. "But what is almost more important is mathematical thinking. As a mathematical thinker you calculate effectively, but also you're trying to make sense of what these numbers mean."

In this week's TES special supplement What is Education For?, Keri Facer of Nesta Futurelab, the government-backed think-tank, talks about the way some streetwise kids, self-described "losers", had destroyed a computer and used the parts to build remote-controlled racing cars. Their school had known nothing about this high level of technical savvy, or the boys' outside interests.

More important than making learning "fun", she says, is asking how we can "acknowledge and draw on the expertise and interests of young people's out-of-school realities".

Mr Coulson is not a knitter himself, but he is a former bell-ringer, which also requires a real feel for patterns and numbers. "My guess is, if you're really into knitting patterns and design you have quite an intuitive understanding of how numbers fit together". Dart players also internalise mathematical thinking, he says.

Teaching maths - and other subjects - in a way that validates and connects with children's own lives and interests is essential at all levels.

Teacher magazine 35

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now