Today I am hostingthe first #mathscpdchat of the new academic year. Between 7pm and 8pm we will be discussing the following topic: “How do you demonstrate to your pupils that you have a personal love of learning maths?”
Since being asked to host this, I’ve been thinkning quite a bit about this and this short post briefly distills some of that thinking.
Of course there are some areas of math that I have a personal leaning towards, but I would say that I love learning about any are of maths. How to demonstrate this to a class at school is somewhat harder to pin down. Rightly or wrongly, teachers are often perceived by their students as all knowing and so as far as they are concerned there is no more learning for us to do – I beleive it is important ot challenge this perception.
Below are some things that I think can help us show a love of learning.
- This is probably easier with an A-Level class, but I will normally choose exercises to do on the board that I haven’t looked at before. This serves two purposes in my opinion;it slows me down so that I don’t gloss over any exposition that may be key to someone else’s understanding and it also demonstrates that I need to try different approaches, or learn a new technique in order to be able to master it.
- Visibly reading books about mathematics. My desk will often have a book that I am currently reading, often a popular maths title (so that if a student asks me about the book I can talk about something fro the book in an accessible way. If I am trying to promote persistance with an A – Leve class, sometimes reading during the lesson can also disuade them from asking me a question too early in addition to showing that I am actively seeking out new knowledge about mathematics.
- If possible talking about current mathematics research that has made the news is good for many other reasons than just showing that I enjoy learning about mathematics. For example, the new result about tiling pentagons is accessible to anyone with a basic understanding of interior angles of a pentagon.
- Promoting the love of learning of any subject by being interested in discussing any topic or subject with a student. I think the love of learning is infectious and so showing that you enjoy learning and see it as something rewarding in itself has to be a good thing.
- Being positive when teaching any topic. Students seem to be scarily perceptive of whether we like (or value) a particular topic – I have definitely made this mistake before.
I’m looking for better ideas than this to demonstrate my love of learning mathematics. It seems very hard(to me at least) to convey the excitement I feel when working through a new problem or learning some cool new result.
I’m looking forward to discussing it in just over half an hour. Join in tonight’s #mathscpdchat at 7pm (UK time)!