Sunday, 23 September 2012

I'm teaching information that is 300 years old

Oh dear almost a month without posting. Well I have done my first week of proper teaching and it was as hectic as usual. I think my first lessons were ok but I'm definitely out of the swing of it. I need to plan more thoroughly but I'm moving house this week and my timetable was changed after I left work for the week so this will probably be difficult. I'm enjoying teaching A2 Maths again and my students are lovely. We are starting with the numerical methods coursework which is a bit dry but hopefully will warm them up for the maths to come. I'm teaching lots of reluctant GCSE students this year.

I've let the gamification Coursera course slide and have started another one Introduction to Mathematical Thinking with Keith Devlin. I will not be able to fully participate in this one either as I won't have broadband for a fortnight after moving. However it's still got me thinking. One statement in the introduction reasoning really got to me - "the typical high school curriculum comprises of mathematics at least three-hundred years old, some of it over two-thousand years old!" I knew this but I'd never really thought about it. Really we are teaching a historical course. The ancient rules have been past on from generation to generation almost like a religious text. My thoughts on the usefulness of the GCSE syllabus varies from year to year. I think Maths is a key topic but some of the things we teach are no longer useful particular if you finish your maths education at 16. What is the use of understanding Pythagoras' theorem but not being ripped off by credit card interest?

I've just finished the third episode of The Bletchley Circle. A lovely drama on ITV with a great cast. In the episode the main character reaches for The Principles of Mathematics by Bertrand Russell in an emergency. It was great to see maths portrayed positively for a change.

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