From the editor
In the words of the song – ‘so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, adieu’. It is with some sadness that I am writing the last issue of the Secondary Magazine from the current editorial team. Very best wishes to the new team – I look forward to reading the coming issues. The current team have produced Issue 11 through to this Issue, number 58, so it seems appropriate to reflect upon some of the high points of the past 48 issues which have spanned nearly two years.
Issue 11 started with a reflection upon the announcement that there would be no requirement to complete mathematics coursework at GCSE. So, two years on, how do we feel about this? I am not aware of any colleagues who are ‘missing’ the hoops that pupils felt they were jumping through to get their grades – pupils now have an entitlement to access the process skills at Key Stage 3 and the ‘new’ GCSE specifications for first teaching in September 2010 include assessment objectives that require pupils to ‘Select and apply mathematical methods in a range of contexts’ and ‘Interpret and analyse problems and generate strategies to solve them’. In Issue 11 we asked: ‘So what will you do with the extra curriculum time gained? How will you give pupils the opportunity to solve problems and experience the pleasure of mathematical discovery?” How would you answer these questions now?
Issue 23 received a lot of comment at the time, not least from colleagues! Are you a XXX teacher? talked about the default setting of many mathematics lessons in the country - eXplanation, eXample, eXercise. The article went on to talk about the ‘connected, challenging’ view of teaching as described by Malcolm Swan in his book Improving learning in mathematics: challenges and strategies. What sort of teacher are you?
In 2009, Issue 26 focussed on Functional Mathematics. It seems strange that we needed to write this article so recently, now that Functional Mathematics is about to be incorporated into the GCSE examination. Have we made progress with the idea of Functional Mathematics in our classrooms? In Issue 34 we considered the news that the requirement to have a separate Functional Mathematics qualification to get a GCSE was dropped we said: “I know hardly anyone involved in mathematics education who thinks that ‘teaching to the test’, reducing maths to a series of algorithms to be applied without real understanding, is the way that they want to teach. Functional Skills and the new GCSE give us an ideal opportunity to break out of this habit and to continue to develop new, problem-solving behaviour both for ourselves and our students.” How does that look in your classroom?
More recently, in Issue 47 we talked about the QCDA publication, Engaging mathematics for all learners. This article seems to tie together some of the themes above: removing coursework whilst encouraging students to become functional mathematicians in a wide range of contexts within and beyond the classroom. It is a constant, exciting challenge to give students a positive, engaging mathematical experience in the classroom – what an interesting and satisfying career we have as mathematics teachers!