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Massive insult to primary teachers

Discussion in 'Education news' started by moscowbore, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    That’s why the call for an increase of rote learning is reported (I think) erroneously, suggesting that rote learning should be used across the curriculum. There is a place for it, to give them the tools by which they can investigate more complex ideas, but they also need to be taught how to apply this to real-life situations. A variety of teaching methods is required (as we all know).
    palmtree100, bevdex and Vince_Ulam like this.
  2. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter


    Currently in Y6, most teachers are trying desperately to cram in the arithmetic because of the three maths KS2 test papers they know that this is the one where they can boost most pupils' scores, by hammering the methods over and over. Applying it all - which they then need to do in the two reasoning papers - is where we are all struggling. Throw in some words and real-life context and suddenly knowing your times tables doesn't help. We use Times Tables rockstars and are finding that kids can tell us 8 nines but still don't even know, upon reading a word problem, whether it requires multiplication or division. Hence we are now planning two solid afternoons a week from after half term on reasoning, in addition to daily morning maths.

    Fun times.
    chelsea2 likes this.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I cannot help that.

    Literal much?

    Except this is not the case.

    Unnecessary. SATs do not require any learning which is not reflected in the Primary National Curriculum.

    It's called the Mathematics programme of study for key stages 1 & 2. It's the sort of thing Primary teachers find useful. Have you seen it?

    Presumably in your thirty-five years of teaching mathematics you never taught a formal method or allowed your students to pick up a pen until you had first successfully telepathically embedded mathematical understanding into their brains. Neat trick.

    Your incorrect view is taught to many who work in Primary. This explains much.

    You have said that you "do" mathematics interventions but you are not leading these these interventions? Given that you are a retired Primary teacher of thirty-five years experience who has been "doing" these interventions with the same pupils for the past three years I'd be surprised if you were not granted some degree of autonomy. Well, if you are following another's direction in this work, they've been receiving these interventions from you for over 40% of their Primary career: What are their teachers and you doing for these children if in Year 6 they do not yet know their times tables?

    Of course it's to achieve higher levels if, as you have said, these pupils have received the same teaching as their peers and three years of interventions from you and they still do not know their times tables. If they are SEN then say so but don't suggest that you are hot-housing them if by now they do not know the most basic of arithmetical facts mandated of Primary schooling.

    Right, so at some point in the past several of these teachers have churched up their teaching when the clipboards came visiting, yet still a number of their children require successive years of mathematical interventions which appear not to be working quite so well as might be expected. I've seen this sort of thing before, exclusion disguised as intervention. What reasoning did this school use in these pupils' Year 3 that set them on a course for three years of mathematics interventions?

    Of course there is always the possibility, however remote it might seem to you and these teachers with their ribbons and medals, that the mathematical teaching & interventions at this school are, well, really bad. Three years of mathematical interventions, 42% of their Primary career and these pupils still don't know their times tables. I'm glad you put target in scare quotes because, as you know, times tables up to 12 should be in place by Year 4. Didn't you know this? How many years have you been intervening with these pupils did you say? Three, is it, with thirty-five years of teaching experience? I'm afraid to say that the boasting and the boosting of their teachers do not convince.

    I have not said otherwise.

    Yet in some cases their "damnedest", by what I'm reading here, isn't up to par.

    Which is to say I have spent less time in a Primary school these last two years than you yet, evidently, to more positive effect.

    Yes, but I'm glad to see that by these tests the government is taking Primary mathematics teaching more seriously.
  4. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    If only, Vince, it were as simple as you make it sound. It is not the case that being taught well means that a child always achieves what the powers-that-be think they should, nor that failure to achieve is due only to poor teaching; there are multiple factors at play. Normal distribution curve, etc - there is always going to be a continuum, and these pupils are at the lower end of that academically (not just their tables!).

    Have you had 100% success rate with the pupils you have taught?
  5. emmat34

    emmat34 New commenter

    I am happy that yr4 will be tested for their table knowledge. They will have 5 seconds to answer each of 20-25 questions which is ample time for the average child. Some will struggle but we know who they will be and we can try to hep them. Teaching fractions in yr5/6 is impossible if times tables are not instant.
    peter12171 and Vince_Ulam like this.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    It's not rocket science.

    Which proposition assumes that child is taught well.

    Yes, humans vary in their traits but this should not be used as a fig leaf for bad teaching. If a pedagogy is not working for a handful of otherwise average pupils, isolating them and repeating that pedagogy is not an effective strategy. Don't blame the pupil, blame the teaching.
  7. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    You are the Chief Inspector of Schools and I claim my £100!

    I wasn't aware I was blaming anyone.

    I repeat:
  8. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

  9. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Unbelievably, that makes me even more depressed. Making you watch that...eeugh, horrible. Makes the bursar’s video nasties of ‘fire extinguishers I installed over this summer break’ look harmless.
    Pomza likes this.
  10. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I had to watch a long and boring video about fire extinguishers too and then take a fire extinguisher test!!:confused:
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  11. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    I tutor secondary kids at indie and state schools and many of the local juniors. All the junior provision varies. Frankly, that’s good thing. Logistically, how could they all sync up anyway? Intellectually, there’s is a huge gulf between in depth delivery of a Shakespeare play at Year seven or eight and covering it in year three. Isn’t assessing PPL a ridiculously pointless extra ask of already overworked teachers? If they want it all synced, they can coordinate it from Napoleon HQ.
  12. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Ah, well there is a sneaky way you can turn this around and boost the day. Grab the images of the extinguishers and turn them into a tongue in cheek mini movie, complete with ‘Dam Busters’ soundtrack. You could make it the ‘recap version.’ Gets many an old curmudgeon chortling!
    Pomza likes this.
  13. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I'd say it's a little more complex than that (taking a social constructavist approach), it's more chicken and egg. To teach a method you need the understanding leading up to it in order to develop an understanding of the method. Otherwise its easy to apply the method in that one context (assuming they can keep it in their memory) but are unable to develop beyond that. For example I have shown (an adult) a method to process a 3D model in order to 3D print it, but they couldn't develop an understanding for what they were doing as they lacked the prior knowledge needed. it all worked fine until there was a problem and couldn't adapt the method to overcome it.

    Similarly the person leading the learning needs to make sure the method they teach is based on understanding (the number of times I've had to unpick adding a zero to the end when multiplying by ten).

    I would suggest that these students have a poor understanding of the place value system and probably need to go back and gain a more solid understanding of addition before attempting understanding multiplication (let alone times tables). How you fit this in is a harder question. Is there time in the afternoon to take them aside whilst a LSA supports the rest of the class?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
    chelsea2 and Pomza like this.
  14. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Yes, I’ve seen that too..applying pre-acquired knowledge to ew problems seems far harder for these kids. Mine need lots of reassurance that they can already do it, if they just applied their division or multiplication skills. It’s like they have a mental block on it. Arithmetic and learning my tables were by the most useful Mathematical knowledge I gained.
  15. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    If you are a social constructivist then I have no doubt you read in my words only a brute direction. It's an amusing theory for an undergraduate term but it's not how mathematics works.

    To teach it, yes, but not to learn it. Can you imagine teaching a child how to count, to understand number, unless directing them with a method of some sort? So it goes.
  16. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    I agree with @Vince-Ulam. I also find that those who talk about teaching understanding first in Maths don't have a true understanding of what they are teaching. A true understanding of something as 'simple' as counting actually involves much more sophisticated mathematics. I hardly find any maths teachers that really understand negative numbers.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  17. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    Has anyone seen the format of these tests yet? Is it straight times tables or does it also include the inverse?
  18. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Just timestables. Taken online.
  19. Benbamboo

    Benbamboo Occasional commenter

    Cheers, I actually think they'll miss an opportunity if they don't include the inverse. This is often where times table knowledge comes unstuck and where it is important for areas like fractions.
    Pomza likes this.
  20. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    I'm not sure if you understood my last comment. As I said, understanding and method are a somewhat chicken and egg scenario. That any method (I'm assuming a mathematical method as opposed to a teaching method) that may lead to some new understanding, requires some prior understanding first.

    I agree that you can teach a child to count using a method (I'd say this isn't the same as understanding number), but it is based on an understanding of certain principles, such as the idea that each object has only one word/mark/representation, or the last word in the array of counted things represents the total. If they don't have those understandings then whatever method you are using to teach them the ordinality is unlikely to lead to them understanding. They're only developing procedural knowledge. (That said, most tests only test this).

    So methods and understanding are interconnected as far as learning is concerned. You can use methods to teach understanding of concept Z but to do so requires understanding of concept Y. You can't just jump in and teach them the method for solving quadratic equations and expect it to lead to understanding if they don't understand the basics of algebra.

    (As an aside, there is evidence that infants 4-7.5m have some understanding of number, at least of 1-3)

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