Maths - It'll be maths to the ears

12th October 2012 at 01:00
An exuberant teacher is to host a fun and fact-filled TES podcast

When Craig Barton was a teenager, he dreamed of having his own radio show. Sitting in his bedroom, he would imagine playing 1990s Indie music and discussing the musical dilemma of the moment: Blur versus Oasis.

A couple of decades on and the exuberant school teacher is probably as close as he is ever going to get, launching a series of entertaining and educational monthly TES podcasts on his favourite subject: maths.

Just like a radio programme, his 30-minute shows are designed to inform and amuse. There will be special guests (one top name is international maths resources creator Malcolm Swan) and regular features such as podcast puzzles, "Show and Tell" and "In the News". And rather like talk radio, TES users will be invited to suggest ideas, activities, tasks and resources on the chosen subject each month.

"I proudly tell my students I am a maths geek," says Barton, who has been known to share his mathematical conundrums with friends at dinner parties and barbecues. "I love problems and puzzles and always have since I was a kid. I take great satisfaction in cracking a problem for myself.

"That's only bettered these days when I see a child who feels the same way - or even better, when I get a student who hates maths or who thinks it's boring, and I can show them something nice like a little trick to impress their friends. Or make them understand something they've never quite got before.

"Those are the moments that make me so pleased I became a teacher."

Barton sees mathematics in everything. And he is adept at taking popular topics - falling in love, for example - and adapting them to provoke fierce classroom debate. Can you really work out the mathematical probabilities to determine which of 37 dates could be your true love? Maybe not. But Barton wants his pupils to have fun trying.

Another section of the podcast will touch on other teachers' classroom experiences: what worked for them in lessons and what proved disastrous.

"I want the podcasts to be funny and draw teachers in," Barton says. "I think teachers enjoy hearing that their experiences are shared by others. I hope that more regular features may emerge as the episodes progress and the correspondence starts coming in.

"I am addicted to podcasts. I listen to one a night before I sleep and one when I'm at the gym. There are a few maths podcasts out there, but mainly aimed at university maths level. I wanted to do one for secondary maths teachers, offering help and advice, pointing out amazing resources, and hopefully being entertaining, too."

Creating a podcast, he admits, has its difficulties compared to working in a classroom. "I think, in my head, that I might have done a good job and when I listen back I worry that it sounds awful," he says. "I'm not a big fan of the sound of my own voice - though my girlfriend might disagree.

"But it's fantastic to think that teachers around the country, even the world, are listening in. I'd love it if we get lots of correspondence for each episode.

"I hope it will become part of a teacher's monthly routine - a sort of 'Best of TES maths' for the month.

"I'm really excited. I might even get some good jingles going, too."

Listen to the first podcast now at The next podcasts will be broadcast on 6 November and 7 December


See maths puzzles recommended by Craig Barton (pictured) at bit.lymathspuzzles

Check out nrich maths' profile on TES Resources for more problems to puzzle over in class.


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