Effective teachers know their subject

8th December 2000 at 00:00
MY heart sank at the front-page trailer "Why mathematicians can't teach maths".

As I expected, Karen Gold's (otherwise good) article dredged up, yet again, the finding from the King's College 1997 study.

In the interest of balance, Karen might have mentioned the contradictory findings of my research with Sarah Martyn, Patti Barber and Caroline Heal, which I summarised in your own pages ("Discovering the ABC of number", TES, March 12, 1999). Our finding that good maths subject knowledge and good maths teaching go together (and vice versa) is based on a sample of 154 teachers, compared with 18 in the Kig's study.

People also conveniently overlook evidence from a concept- mapping questionnaire in the King's study which indicates that the effective teachers had good subject knowledge (if not necessarily good qualifications).

I could also point to some recent research on maths teacher trainee's experience (mostly negative) of maths at university.

Those dons who carp at the poor entry-level maths of their undergraduate students have

significantly been responsible for shaping the attitudes of those who teach them.

Dr Tim Rowland

Homerton College

University Of Cambridge

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