Senior School News

Maths Anxiety?

This week our Senior School article has been put together by the Mathematics Curriculum Area.

The Maths department encourage students to think deeply and enjoy maths. This academic year one of our targets centres around balancing a challenging curriculum with an environment that reduces ‘maths anxiety’ and enhances our students well being. Our work in this area has evolved over many years and, thanks to the extensive experience within the department, we have numerous strategies that we employ to this end. Here are a few that could be useful to share:

  • Students perform best in a calm emotional state; we have worked to give students ample notice of upcoming tests, and where possible removed timed tests.
  • We work to give students tasks that offer the opportunity to understand the concept as well as the process, additionally we emphasize the importance of a correct process in addition to a correct answer.
  • Adequate time is needed to allow students to find different solutions to problems, we provide reassurance that mistakes are useful and we highlight that we can learn from examining them, whilst emphasising the most efficient solutions.
  • Students should understand that challenges are expected in maths and that our most creative thinking and enjoyment in maths comes from persevering through frustrations and difficult problems.
  • Different strategies work with different students and learning isn’t a linear process; we provide different manipulatives, pictorial representations, opportunities for discussion along with algorithms and our own observations to promote a deep understanding of the concept being studied. One size does not fit all.

As Maths teachers at BSM, we often appreciate how lucky we are to work with the array of great students that attend the school, both those who love maths and those who struggle with it. We can take additional meaning from the words of the American topologist William Thurston when he says ‘Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms: it is about understanding’.

Next week is Week A.

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