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FE Magazine - Issue 6: The mathematics I do

This page has been archived. The content was correct at the time of original publication, but is no longer updated.
Created on 18 January 2010 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 28 January 2010 by ncetm_administrator

FE Magazine Issue 6microphone

The Mathematics I do - Viv Brown

About me
I am a Regional Coordinator for the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM).
The mathematics I use at work...
Is often related to travel. I need to know how many miles it is to the various places I visit in the region and estimate how long each journey takes. If I take the train, I often think of the students I used to teach in FE and how many had difficulty understanding timetables.
The mathematics I’ve used in the last week...
Has been mostly related to low temperatures outside, often negative, realising how heavy snow can be to shift and marvelling at the length and thickness of the icicles hanging from my house.

Mathematics which has amazed and/or surprised me...
Ah, just dip into Rob Eastaway’s ‘Why do buses come in threes?’ or ‘How long’s a piece of string?’ and you will be amazed, and surprised too.
The part of mathematics I like most...
I like anything to do with paper folding and was intrigued to read the article on the power of origami in Issue 53 of Plus magazine. From trisecting angles to folding automobile airbags, folding is the key.
The part of mathematics I like least...
Is those horrible multi-choice maths questions in tests where three wrong answers are suggested and only one correct one. It would be so much more positive and creative for learners if open questions could be used, such as ‘What are the dimensions of a rectangle with area 24 cm2?’ or, ‘Write a quadratic expression as a string of terms and in its factorised form.’ Then they really would have a choice.
A maths teacher I remember...
Is the one who made me smile, Miss Connor. She taught me geometry with great success. Having drawn some diagram on the board, she would storm up and down between the desks, enthusiastically demanding ‘What can you see? What can you see?’ 
And another teacher I remember...
Is Henry Jack who could cover a board in maths faster than I could copy it down and only had one way of explaining anything. Unfortunately, it was not always a way that I could understand.
And other people/events that have influenced my attitude to mathematics include...
  • becoming a teacher and finding that not many people want to study maths
  • working with access students and celebrating their success in maths second time around
  • receiving the Standards Unit box [Improving Learning in Mathematics] and wishing I had been given it 20 years before.
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