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Imaginative maths and science teaching


patslatt

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Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
13,693
Iv'e read that science and maths' high dropout rates in secondary schools are caused by unimaginative teaching. Maybe the teachers' themselves lack specialised degrees that arguably may be necessary to teach those subjects. In my schooldays,maths was taught in academic abstractions and I suppose this is still largely the case.

In one example of imaginative teaching that I heard of,a university professor regularly takes his students to the Casino to apply probability statistics on small bets. Similarly,without leaving the classroom this approach could be applied to televised horse racing and to card games. Of course, this creates a small risk of gambling addiction among students.

I can't readily think of imaginative ways to teach algebra,except that I assisted my nephew on the basic rules by substituting arithmetic numbers for the mysterious symbols eg 2(4-1) - 6/2 = 3.

I suppose algebraic equations could be applied on computer simulations to illustrate stress tests for bridges or the height limits of skyscrapers. It would be fun to tweak an equation and then watch a bridge collapse from an earthquake or a too tall skyscraper collapse of its own weight in a computer simulation.

At primary school level,it would be fun to learn arithmetic from playing Rings or Darts. Years ago, Rings was a popular pub game in which a player tossed a rubber ring onto a board of pegs with numbers.

Some of the numbers could be negative to teach subtraction. There must be other games that teach multiplication and division. Darts and Rings rules could be adjusted to do that by making some numbers divisors and some multipliers. For example,if a dart hit a double on an odd number 1,3 or 5 etc, the cumulative game score could be multiplied by that double number;and if it hit a treble on an even number the game score could be divided by that number provided the division did not leave a remainder. So if the game score was 700 and the dart hit a treble 20, the game score would drop to 700/20 = 35 but if it hit treble 19 the game score would remain the same since 700/57 = 684 + 16.

How imaginative is the maths and science teaching in today's classrooms?
 

adamd164

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Joined
Aug 14, 2007
Messages
3
I don't buy it tbh. I've just been through the school system -- where I studied Biology, Physics, and Maths -- and I am now in University, studying Biology. I can say that, in my experience, most people don't like science and maths simply because they don't want to be challenged. It's intellectual laziness. They want the easy ride; art, languages, etc. I had very dedicated teachers who genuinely displayed a passion for science, but it wasn't shared by the vast majority. If people find science boring, I can't really understand why, I think it's fascinating, and I've always loved it.
 

wombat

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Jun 16, 2007
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31,986
When the Grants were introduced first, 4 C's were needed for a grant, maths or Irish counted as 2, to encourage kids to take the higher level papers. Sometime over the years the rules changed so we have kids taking easy subjects to accumulate points. Maths are not easy but their difficulty is exaggerated. Personally, I think the emphasis in secondary schools should be on giving kids a basic knowledge of science rather than chasing current fads. There is no intrinsic value in teaching a kid how to use a computer - even if you teach them to use a spreadsheet, what's the point if they don't understand the basic maths on which it is based.
 

adamd164

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Aug 14, 2007
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3
I agree with you regarding the points race. It's all about the easiest route to one's third level course. It's not about education anymore. If you see the number of people taking grinds, you soon realise that it's become quite the business as well.
 

Ataxia

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Feb 5, 2008
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I'm in leaving cert year and I love maths the way it is taught.

Maths is abstract! We need to be taught it as such, rather than dumb it down.
 

wombat

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Ataxia said:
I'm in leaving cert year and I love maths the way it is taught.

Maths is abstract! We need to be taught it as such, rather than dumb it down.
You have the right idea, applications can come later but it is essential to get your foundation right.
 

Ataxia

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Messages
117
wombat said:
Ataxia said:
I'm in leaving cert year and I love maths the way it is taught.

Maths is abstract! We need to be taught it as such, rather than dumb it down.
You have the right idea, applications can come later but it is essential to get your foundation right.
Applications come from subjects like physics, applied maths, economics (even though it is a psuedoscience) etc.
 

Riadach

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Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
12,847
adamd164 said:
I don't buy it tbh. I've just been through the school system -- where I studied Biology, Physics, and Maths -- and I am now in University, studying Biology. I can say that, in my experience, most people don't like science and maths simply because they don't want to be challenged. It's intellectual laziness. They want the easy ride; art, languages, etc. I had very dedicated teachers who genuinely displayed a passion for science, but it wasn't shared by the vast majority. If people find science boring, I can't really understand why, I think it's fascinating, and I've always loved it.
Languages easy?
 

Riadach

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Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
12,847
Ataxia said:
I'm in leaving cert year and I love maths the way it is taught.

Maths is abstract! We need to be taught it as such, rather than dumb it down.
Not everyone's learning style is suited to abstract teaching though. It may suit you and I for instance, but we are not in the majority. If it is such an abstract subject, then a concerted effort needs to be made to contextualise is, to make it more concrete for individuals with differing learning styles. This is not dumbing it down.
 

Ataxia

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Feb 5, 2008
Messages
117
Riadach said:
Ataxia said:
I'm in leaving cert year and I love maths the way it is taught.

Maths is abstract! We need to be taught it as such, rather than dumb it down.
Not everyone's learning style is suited to abstract teaching though. It may suit you and I for instance, but we are not in the majority. If it is such an abstract subject, then a concerted effort needs to be made to contextualise is, to make it more concrete for individuals with differing learning styles. This is not dumbing it down.
There is no point teaching higher-level maths students anything other than abstract maths - because that is what you are supposed to be preparing them for in university.

If you want to put this sort of stuff on the pass course that's fine - those people most likely don't have a highly mathematical future ahead of them.
 

rockofcashel

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Jan 23, 2005
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patslatt said:
Iv'e read that science and maths' high dropout rates in secondary schools are caused by unimaginative teaching. Maybe the teachers' themselves lack specialised degrees that arguably may be necessary to teach those subjects. In my schooldays,maths was taught in academic abstractions and I suppose this is still largely the case.

In one example of imaginative teaching that I heard of,a university professor regularly takes his students to the Casino to apply probability statistics on small bets. Similarly,without leaving the classroom this approach could be applied to televised horse racing and to card games. Of course, this creates a small risk of gambling addiction among students.

I can't readily think of imaginative ways to teach algebra,except that I assisted my nephew on the basic rules by substituting arithmetic numbers for the mysterious symbols eg 2(4-1) - 6/2 = 3.

I suppose algebraic equations could be applied on computer simulations to illustrate stress tests for bridges or the height limits of skyscrapers. It would be fun to tweak an equation and then watch a bridge collapse from an earthquake or a too tall skyscraper collapse of its own weight in a computer simulation.

At primary school level,it would be fun to learn arithmetic from playing Rings or Darts. Years ago, Rings was a popular pub game in which a player tossed a rubber ring onto a board of pegs with numbers.

Some of the numbers could be negative to teach subtraction. There must be other games that teach multiplication and division. Darts and Rings rules could be adjusted to do that by making some numbers divisors and some multipliers. For example,if a dart hit a double on an odd number 1,3 or 5 etc, the cumulative game score could be multiplied by that double number;and if it hit a treble on an even number the game score could be divided by that number provided the division did not leave a remainder. So if the game score was 700 and the dart hit a treble 20, the game score would drop to 700/20 = 35 but if it hit treble 19 the game score would remain the same since 700/57 = 684 + 16.

How imaginative is the maths and science teaching in today's classrooms?
I'd agree with this for basic and foundation maths...

I was witness one evening to a group of well educated rugby players, commandeer a dartboard in a pub after a match.

They asked the locals, who were lets say, not as formally educated, for a game of 501.

As the game progressed, the locals had to tell them, that they would have to hurry up marking the board.. because they kept using the calculator function on their mobiles.

The locals were able to count down, work out necessary doubles and trebles, and play to finish on certain combinations, all from their head.

That's practicality.

Why the **** to I need to know the theoroms associated with lines and circles ?

Ha ?
 

Riadach

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12,847
Ataxia said:
There is no point teaching higher-level maths students anything other than abstract maths - because that is what you are supposed to be preparing them for in university.
What? We don't just teach maths for those who wish to go on to do maths in university, who are extremely few. We teach it because of the cognitive
advantages and improvement in logical faculties. These are advantageous to everyone, not to the tiny few who actually pursue careers in mathematics or mathematical relating computing etc.

However, one can still teach abstract concepts and have a concrete foundation. Or are you suggesting we should automatically exclude half of the studentship from maths because their learning styles are unsuited to it?

If you want to put this sort of stuff on the pass course that's fine - those people most likely don't have a highly mathematical future ahead of them.
But if you don't instigate such a policy, you may get people being excluded from such a future, through no fault of their own.
 

rockofcashel

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Plus, I was related to an acturist, who had maths flowing out his ears, who couldn't multiply 11 times 11, without a calculator

Times tables I say, times tables
 

Riadach

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Joined
Feb 9, 2007
Messages
12,847
rockofcashel said:
Plus, I was related to an acturist, who had maths flowing out his ears, who couldn't multiply 11 times 11, without a calculator

Times tables I say, times tables
It's amazing how a bit of 'outdated' rote learning stands to you.

121.
 

michael1965

Active member
Joined
Oct 4, 2005
Messages
143
The quality of teaching makes a huge difference with subjects like Maths and Physics. I have two kids going through secondary school at the moment, and the standard of Maths teaching is not great. It looks like some of the teachers don't understand what they are teaching that well. That tends to translate into kids thinking they aren't able to understand the subject.

The other problem is that the rest of the Leaving Cert (unlike Maths) has become too formulaic and predictable. The other subjects have been allowed to become too easy IMO.
 

Fuascailt

New member
Joined
Dec 28, 2007
Messages
2
I'm in leaving cert as well, and i reckon maths is one of the best taught subjects. I am lucky enough to have a great teacher, and can see how that would make a difference, but hey, compae it to the terrible irish curriculum.
 
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