Let our teachers choose method

26th May 2006 at 01:00
Imagine the the uproar from the music community if it were only allowed to use the recorder as a tool for teaching music in the primary school.

Teachers must be allowed to choose methods that they are not only happy to teach but that they are also confident in using.

So it was with complete horror that I read in the renewal of the maths framework: "Children should be taught one standard written method for each operation."

In my own schooling and in my teaching, I have found non-standard methods, particularly for subtraction and division, extremely useful.

Primary teachers must gain a thorough knowledge of the different methods of calculation when they are training so that any pupil arriving at their school can use the method they have been taught elsewhere without feeling it is wrong.

Secondary mathematics teachers should also know the various methods and allow pupils to use the one that they find most efficient. Often sharing methods provides some illuminating mathematical discussion.

As maths teachers, we should have multiple methods at our fingertips, using our professional judgement to determine the most appropriate method for a pupil or group of pupils.

Prescription is a dangerous game for teachers, pupils and enjoyment of mathematics.

Wendy Fortescue-Hubbard is TES Teacher's Mathagony Aunt

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