How do we do it?;Primary;Maths Year 2000;Books

1st October 1999 at 01:00
TEACHING, LEARNING AND PRIMARY MATHEMATICS. Edited by Adrian Pinel. Association for the Teaching of Mathematics. pound;12.50.

The quality of articles in Mathematics Teaching, the Association for the Teaching of Mathematics' journal, is usually high and this wide-ranging compilation is no exception.

Adrian Pinel's interesting introduction highlights the ATM's concern with how children learn and how their minds work. He stresses the importance of basing evidence on well-founded research, and questions the frequent changes in maths teaching, of which the Numeracy Framework is the latest.

The articles on mental calculation are of particular interest in the current climate. Meindert Beishuizen discusses work in the Netherlands, where research shows empty number lines to be "indispensable pre-requisites for the flexible use of mental strategies". He explains that the empty number line not only enables children to develop strategies to support mental calculation, but also gives them mental images to reinforce those strategies.

The issues and examples from the classroom are original and well-explored and would enhance the Numeracy Framework. Kate Harland explores multiplication through a story. The Cornwall key stage 2 task group uses a story context containing several problems to work across key stages 1 and 2.

The collection spans nine years, so some of the articles have been overtaken by recent research. And those assessing the importance of calculators are out of line with current thinking. But let's hope Adrian Pinel is correct and all that will change again.

Patti Barber is a lecturer in primary education at the London University Institute of Education

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