Let’s make maths memorable!!!

Posted by France on May 19, 2016

Our world is so obsessed with success and watching Matthew Syed video has made me realised that we’ve created a world predominantly oriented on success where the word failure is perceived as a plague to be avoided at all cost. Somehow I am glad to do task 7, perhaps I might be a little controversial for to me, this task absolutely complement the previous ones despite the article and the video are not specifically focussed on numbers. Willingham on the other hand provides some very useful advice that I would definitely follow personally and hopefully use in teaching others. Besides, the distinction made between myths, talent and practice is crystal clear now, instead of elevating one and despising the other, the wise manager, teacher, mentor, etc. on the contrary uses the different qualities and aptitudes for the benefit of the students.
The phrase that will always be stuck in my mind is that, ‘mathematics is the science of pattern’ as I have learnt in previous tasks that our brain can learn mathematics contrary to our misconceived idea that some cannot do maths; Matthew Syed concords with the same thought stating that, “if we stick at something for a long period of time the brain itself changes fundamentally”. To me this is revolutionary, if I am resolute in my goal and applied continuously at excelling myself, success is achievable, even though at the moment I felt like a table tennis player playing on a tennis court. Besides, the advantage of not being talented helps in the sense that it keeps the one who has experienced failure to be in control with the narrative of his own development as this will make him more resilient, more motivated, as well as having more sympathy with those who have similar experience. Recognising our weaknesses can be a catalyst for growth (Matthew Syed). I believe that adopting this attitude as a personal teaching method would encourage a lot of students, perceived as non-talented or ungifted, to achieve their best potential at maths.
I would certainly consider Willingham’s advice of spending more time thinking about what I learn and asking why when things get complex instead of regurgitating or cramming information. I am well pleased to learn that the information stored in our memories aren’t disposed of with new one, but is kept in our memories and techniques can be used to access them. Knowing that would enormously help students with their confidence that they are able to retrieve what they have learnt and hence perform better, both in class and when they are formerly assessed.
Our obsession with talent are sometimes misleading and corrosive, while genetic does explain some proportional differences in performance, Matthew Syed encourages us to be more passionate, dedicated, perseverance in our goal and not being set on talent. Being stretched and allowing students to be stretched or sometimes ‘overlearn’ as suggested by Willingham, accompanied by constructive feedback where students are provided with relevant data of their progress are the prerequisites for success.

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