Technology can bring maths alive

5th September 2003 at 01:00
I was delighted to read so many articles in support of mathematics and its teaching (TES, August 22) but they seemed to focus on remarkably similar themes; the proposed changes to "maths for citizenship" and students'

waning interest in traditional mathematics disciplines.

I believe there is a place for a "maths for citizenship" course but please, not watered down arithmetic full of highly improbable "real-life" problems.

We should grasp this as an opportunity to bring mathematics alive and to integrate computer technology initiatives; the appropriate use of technology can make a little maths go a lot further.

Why is it that information and communications technology and computers seem to be interchangeable in most things I read? Other technologies exist and in many cases are more appropriate in the secondary maths classroom, such as hand-held graphic calculators. One article talks about the use of ICT (or do they mean computers?) being better managed by primary colleagues and I readily believe it; but I would question the use of a computer for the sake of using one. ICT must be used in whatever form it takes to enhance students' experience, either in their understanding, motivation or enjoyment of learning.

So let us proceed with caution. We must be certain that any modified courses move maths education forward, to improve pupils' understanding and remove its dusty image.

We must avoid dull and tedious numeracy courses and all proposals must be discussed not only at ministerial level but by teachers at the chalk-face.

We need teachers who know how to deliver with technology and who know how to make a little maths go a lot farther.

Calum Stewart Principal teacher of mathematics Preston Lodge high school Prestonpans East Lothian

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