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There is no way I could teach STEP maths

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by ian60, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. ian60

    ian60 New commenter




















    Which I find really frustrating, I am ok with IB HL, I just don't seem to have that creative mathematical spark which would lend itself to teaching the really talented (I''m teaching overseas)
    What do you do when you have students who are better mathematicians than you are?



     
  2. ian60

    ian60 New commenter




















    Which I find really frustrating, I am ok with IB HL, I just don't seem to have that creative mathematical spark which would lend itself to teaching the really talented (I''m teaching overseas)
    What do you do when you have students who are better mathematicians than you are?



     
  3. I've always given them the past papers and the "hints and suggestions" and then worked through questions with them.
     
  4. One of my students is doing some STEP questions so they get sprung on me during a tutorial. If I can't do them I can't do them. I'm only human. It's sometimes good to learn that maths is not the smooth process you see in textbooks where there is never a mistake or even a wasted bit of working.
     
  5. Disclaimer: I'm not a teacher - the only formal teaching I've done was a bit of supervision at Cambridge, about 20 years ago.

    With the possible exception of someone doing university level maths on a fairly regular basis, I think you have to accept it will take a while to get used to STEP.

    I've had long arguments with people about STEP vs a university degree, and although I think most people with a good uni degree should be able to do well at STEP, that does depend partly on being able to pick some STEP questions that leverage your university knowledge. (In other words, you are using experience rather than "raw smarts").

    Of course, the problem for a teacher is that you don't get to pick the questions - you have to do what your students pick.
    Being able to answer every question, in a reasonable amount of time for a lesson, is a very difficult ask indeed.

    To be honest, I don't think it's realistic (I'd expect to get near perfect marks if I took STEP, and there's usually a couple of questions per paper I struggle with).

    All you can do is the best you can. I've been on both sides of this, and even if your students are "better", you can still help them with knowledge, support, and simply checking that what they're doing makes sense.
     
  6. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I took STEP 20 years ago and have recently done some training to refresh myself. I seem to have regressed somewhat with age! It has taken some time and a lot of work to feel confident to teach it.
    I would recommend the course I went on which was offered by the Further Maths network. The trainer was very familiar with key issues arising and how they come up in questions. The notes which I took are definitely going to be my basis for teaching it.
     
  7. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    This is really quite an easy answer. If students are really that good at maths, then it is a feather in their cap. It also does them good to see their teacher struggle with that top end stuff. I roll my sleeves up and get problem solving with them. That's one of the key things to enjoy about maths teaching.
    If, between the department, we can't solve a problem instantly, we can usually come up with a way forward having thought about it overnight. Students appreciate that.
     
  8. I completely agree.

    Indeed, to my mind one of the key things that "makes a mathematician" is to be able to solve a problem that you *can't* immediately see how to do. It seems too many people doing today's A-levels just panic the moment they have to actually stop and think for a couple of minutes.
     
  9. I quite agree. One of my students has no ability at maths, but works so hard that he will fill 3 pages of working for a question, until he works out how to do it. I expect him to have got an A, or at least a high B ion the recent AS-levels.
     
  10. I suspect many football coaches 'teach' players who are better than them. The same with golf, swimming athletics etc. Surely one gets to a certain level where it is a person's coaching and mentoring skills which start to be just as important, if not more so. I suspect some students just benefit from having someone to listen to their 'proof' in the knowledge that it has to be convincing. I don't do STEP but I often find that my A level students discover their own mistakes once I start to get them to take me through their'wrong' solution step by step.
     

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