As seen in Chapter 1,
One’s knowledge of mathematics and one’s knowledge of how children learn mathematics are considered to be the most important tools one can acquire to be an effective teacher.
I do have to agree with the abovementioned, but at the same time I asked myself these questions: “Is my knowledge of mathematics enough to impart to my children today? How do I know if it’s really enough?”
Since my childhood years, as far as I can remember, I have always enjoyed learning and doing mathematics but only up to Secondary 3, when I had to take A-Maths and I was struggling to pass the subject. Elementary Maths was easy-peasy but the results of my A-Maths tests and exams have totally disappointed me. However, it was not the results alone that had dampened my heart to open up to the subject, but because of the attitude of my then Math teacher who has made me feel like I was stupid and dumb to have failed such a straightforward subject. Her comments like, “How come you don’t know?” has definitely killed my interest to continue learning mathematics as I grew older. And that is when I could relate to the abovementioned: “Does my teacher even know how students learn mathematics?”
I have seen how parents teach their children mathematics and sadly, majority of them prefer to spoonfeed their children with answers when they feel their children fail to understand a particular math concept after teaching, explaining etc. I don’t blame them but what happens if a teacher does likewise?
Therefore it is of utmost importance that teachers possess the following characteristics, habits of thought, skills and dispositions to succeed as a teacher of mathematics:
1. Knowledge of mathematics
3. Positive attitude
4. Readiness for change
5. Reflective disposition
In my experience as an early childhood professional up till today, I still do expose my children in mathematics as a daily process. I would train the children to line up according to their numbers that they were assigned to, ask them to count the total number of children present on that particular day, got them to always follow the 8 steps of handwashing while washing their hands and rote count to a 100 everyday. I would also measure their height and weight every beginning and middle of the year, expose them to number operations like addition and subtraction, teach them sorting, patterning and geometry (shapes). I feel children could have lots of opportunity to learn mathematics and I would have to say, that mathematics is an essential part of life.
Chapter 2 is an interesting and interactive read. It got me thinking deeper on many issues and one of it is to find out what it means to “do mathematics”.
Before I read this chapter, I have always thought that to do mathematics, one just had to find the correct answers either through memorizing, or knowing the formula to solve a certain problem. Now I have learnt that doing mathematics involve generating strategies to solve problems and also checking to see if our answers make sense. Like for one of the exercises in the textbook, Start and Jump Numbers: Searching for Patterns, before I read about it, I was just focusing on what number comes next and yes, there is a pattern to it, by adding the jump number. But after reading further into this chapter, I realized that hell yeah we have to think about the “pattern length” too?
What does it mean to learn mathematics? I do agree with Jean Piaget that learners are not merely blank slates but creators who are able to give meaning to things that they perceive or think about. Indeed, mathematics is all about having the common sense to construct ideas to help us understand about the things we see, hear or touch.
And I hope that after having gone through this module, it would help me to become a better mathematics teacher before I slowly climb my way up to become an effective mathematics teacher in the near future. (it is hard, but I will try my best!)