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Bringing Maths to life matters more than ever

Bringing Maths to life matters more than ever

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Relevant and practical Maths gets learners engaged

A recent article in the Guardian has highlighted how teacher and entrepreneur Conrad Wolfram is running a pilot in Estonian middle and upper schools to try and make Maths lessons more practical. He has rewritten the Estonian curriculum for teenagers to include an approach he believes will be more engaging for them – analysing problems such as “Will it rain tomorrow?” by using weather data and statistics to forecast the probability.

Wolfram believes the key to engaging young people with Maths is to make it relevant to them, saying: “Most people are much more scared of maths than they are of history. The reason is it is so far from their experience."

It will be interesting to see the outcome of the pilot. We definitely agree that Wolfram is onto something with trying to make Maths relevant to learners to get them motivated.

This was also reflected in a recent report from the Sutton Trust , into Maths education and its relevance for the workplace. It recommended that:

  • Alternatives to the traditional GCSE mathematics pathway should be developed that are rigorous, engaging for students, provide sufficient breadth and are valued by employers

  • Computers should be used extensively to allow students to more easily transfer their mathematical skills into the workplace

  • All young people should continue to study maths until the age of 18. Continued study of maths should focus on its application, so that it is relevant to university courses and a growing number of modern jobs.

  • The report found that GCSE maths teaches a range of practical maths skills but not their practical application in everyday life.

It is particularly important to engage lower attaining and disadvantaged learners with Maths so that they do not lose out later in life - the Sutton Trust report notes:

“For young people from less affluent backgrounds, in particular, their ability to benefit fully from higher education and play a productive role in the workforce will depend on their mathematical competence.”

Making Maths relevant

In our recently launched GCSE Statistics e-learning programme, we have focused on making the resources practical and relevant, to help learners move past the idea that Maths is “boring” or “too hard”. We have posed engaging scenarios such as:

  • ‘Are supermarkets selling too many energy drinks to teenagers?’

  • ‘Do most young adults own their own car by the age of 20?’

  • ‘What is the most popular drink sold at my local Starbucks?’

  • ‘Does everyone over the age of 18 use Facebook?’

Our GCSE Statistics materials are carefully designed to keep learners motivated and to give them ‘can do’ Maths confidence. They include:

  • Test yourself interactive activities in each session

  • Clear examples to show learners how they can work through Maths problems themselves

  • Language of Maths glossary to explain complex words, phrases and symbols

  • Clear overviews which detail what is covered in each session

  • Achievable goals for hard to reach learners

  • Exam hints and tips for learners who need extra support

  • Additional Take it higher! content for higher-tier learners

We also offer a Level 2 Maths resource specifically aimed at boosting confidence in hard to reach learners who struggle with Maths.

Find out more

Looking to get your students more engaged with Maths?

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