Peter Sullivan is currently Professor of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, Monash University. He has extensive experience in research and teaching in teacher education. He is the current President of the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers and was the lead writer of the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics.
He has recently authored an Australian Education Review for ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) titled ‘Teaching Mathematics: Using research-informed strategies’.
This has formed a part of my holiday professional reading. I have some serious reservations about some of the assertions made, particularly as they relate to so-called ‘maths wars’ in the curriculum between an applied approach and a more rigorous, theoretical one…I think this is a fallacious construction built by those involved in education faculties in the tertiary sector. I do not think that there is such a distinctive dichotomous tug of war in schools. Nor should there be. I think to expend energy and effort on exploring a false dichotomy is to focus on the wrong things in mathematics education, the things that will not lead to an improvement in neither teacher nor student learning. I also do not think there is much value in debating the precise nature of what is meant by ‘numeracy’.
The sections of this review that really caught my interest and fired my imagination were Section 5 – Six Key Principles for Effective Teaching of Mathematics, Section 6 – The Role of Mathematical Tasks and Section 7 – Dealing with differences in Readiness.
The Six Principles mentioned are:
- Articulating Goals
- Making connections
- Fostering Engagement
- Differentiating Challenges
- Structuring Lessons
- Promoting fluency and transfer