The Journey Begins

Nerves, Excitement and ‘where’s my passport?’

So the months have flown by since I first got this amazing opportunity, and for those wondering why Mr Styles is going to Shanghai, firstly it is not a jolly as Mr Mason accused me of earlier!

I have been teaching Maths for 21 years and I have tried every year to find new ways to make students enjoy and understand maths. Two years ago I went to a Maths hub meeting that changed completely how I thought maths should be taught and showed me that we can give everyone in the country the opportunity to see themselves as a mathematician.

The problem for years has been no one has really thought about how we learn maths and how we can create lessons that enable the best learning to happen. Jerome Bruner, following up work by Piaget, discovered that for anyone to embed a mathematical concept they must follow a process of concrete, pictorial and abstract.

To give a simple example, when you first start learning addition someone may give you 3 counters and another 4 counters so you can physically feel and count that they make 7 altogether (concrete) then they would move you onto a picture of the 3 and 4 counters and you see this makes 7 altogether (pictorial) and finally you would be able to see the numbers 3 + 4 and understand this makes 7 (abstract).

Unfortunately maths teaching in Britain has forgotten the first two steps and always started from the abstract. This is the reason why most people say “I can’t do MATHS”.

So fast forward two years and here I am on the eve of my trip, or should I say my fact finding mission, to a country that fully embraces the above ideas, that believes everyone can do Maths, and is at the forefront of Maths teaching.

So imagine if you can a future where all maths lessons start with these principles and everyone gets it. Maths teaching over the next 5 years is going to change forever and Brookfield will be leading this change.

Oh and I didn’t forget my passport, but nearly left all my Chinese money behind. Thanks to the amazing Mrs Styles for helping me out.

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