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Which Maths topics do you not get?

(37 Posts)
Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 16:52:53

Hi, I've applied for PGCE Further Education and Training in Mathematics and have been invited for an interview - yay! grin
Now I need to prepare and would like to ask you all lovely people to help me out. My final aim is to teach adults rather than children.
So the questions I would like to ask are: Which Maths topics have you never cottoned on to? If you hate Maths why do you think that is? Which Maths topics do you think are useful to you?
Many thanks for your assistance and time flowers

Peebles1 Wed 04-May-16 17:19:18

I'm 48 so maybe a little old, but was ok at maths (not my strongest subject but fine). When my DCs went to school my biggest problem was that they teach different methods now. Knowing the new methods would have been the most useful to me in terms of helping them. I can do l

Good luck!!

Peebles1 Wed 04-May-16 17:20:08

Ooh that sent too soon! Meant to say 'I can do long division, for example, but not the way they teach it now'.

n0ne Wed 04-May-16 17:22:39

Probability always did my nut in. It just doesn't seem logical!

DrDreReturns Wed 04-May-16 17:24:32

I could never do some integration by substitution questions. And anything to do with proofs made my eyes glaze over!

MarthaCliffYouCunt Wed 04-May-16 17:30:48

I did an adult access course last year (that included maths) and i struggled with the stuff that looks like this:


^^all a pure bollocks example as i cant recall any of the real ones

•= theta
*= squared

Hope that makes sense although maybe not the kind of thing you meant?

Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 17:38:39

Great, thank you for your responses!

DrDre, I've graduated with a first class in Maths but I totally fluked my way through integration by substitution grin it's a massive PITA!

Say you had time and opportunity and desire to strengthen yout numeracy skills, what would you choose to study again?

Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 17:40:11

Martha, it makes perfect sense. Triginometric identities can be most confusing. Did you enjoy the maths course overall?

MarthaCliffYouCunt Wed 04-May-16 17:45:39

Yes i loved the maths. It was my first go at maths since secondary school when i hated it and just couldnt process it at all. But my access course was brilliant. Good teachers make all the difference. I've kept all my notes and handouts to go back through it all again, i enjoyed it so much. Am thinking about studying maths a bit further.

Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 17:53:33

Martha, what made the teacher you had stand out? What was it that he/she did differently from the teacher you had at school?
Sorry to bombard you with questions like that flowers

MarthaCliffYouCunt Wed 04-May-16 18:20:39

She made it clear that her goal was for us to leave each class understanding what we had covered and that if it meant going over it again and again then thats what she did, and she didnt begrudge it at all. She made everything into tiny steps and didnt take it as criticism if someone said she was going a bit too fast. She happily either went back to where they understood it or would speak with them separately to go over it again if the rest of the class was managing ok.
There was never a time where we felt she had made too big a jump to the next part of a question or topic. Also what was really helpful was that everything she did on the interactive whiteboard during class was uploaded to our student portal to help with our homework. It meant we were looking at the exact thing we had done in class rather than trying to use a text book that used a different method. We also used mymaths for homework as well. And we went through loads of old practise papers to get comfortable with how the test questions were laid out.

DoubleNegativePanda Wed 04-May-16 18:26:16

Algebra. Jesus, that was rough. My daughter struggles with it as well and has just failed her algebra class and will be taking it again in summer courses.

Algebra is the devil's own subject at school.

NarcyCow Wed 04-May-16 18:32:40

Probability. It's the most evilly counter-intuitive mess I've ever tried to make sense of.

DrDreReturns Wed 04-May-16 19:26:55

I did an OU course in Maths ten years ago - not a degree, it was the equivalent of first year at Uni. At the time I would have carried on studying but family life got in the way. I don't think I'd study Maths again at the moment. My job a decade ago was very mathematical, my current job isn't.

BettyApplewhite Wed 04-May-16 19:30:32

Reverse percentages

Trigonometry - I just cannot see the point in it?!

Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 19:45:04

Martha, thank you for taking your time to write it down for me!

Betty, reverse percentages is a very good point! Trigonometry is absolutely essential for many things, for example aerodynamics and fluid motion. Only useful to true geeks though smile

Tatiana11235 Wed 04-May-16 19:47:41

Panda, I see your point about algebra. Not the best way to spend your time smile

NarcyCow, you're the second person to mention probability, I will definitely consider it as a presentation topic. Thank you!

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 11-May-16 15:47:59

I liked Maths and enjoyed number and algebra problems.

Things I struggled with:

Logarithms: WTF is the point?

The integration of trigonometric functions: the rules seemed to change for every example we were given and I never managed to spot a pattern. It felt like they were just pulling the answers out of thin air.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 11-May-16 15:50:14

Things I use the most in adult life: percentages, ratios & proportions.

LurcioAgain Wed 11-May-16 16:15:34

As someone whose day job involves trying to convey probabilistic information to the general public, I'd second the suggestion for probability, and suggest you google "infographics probability" - there's loads of good stuff on how to help people to get a handle on probabilities by thinking about questions like "how many people in a group of 1000 will have disease X? How many people will get a correct diagnosis from this test? How many people will have a false alarm (i.e. they get told they have the disease when they don't)? How many misses will you get (i.e. they have the disease but the test fails to pick it up)?"

I guess if you're teaching adults, this will mean predominantly people who struggled with maths at school and so are wanting to have another go as an adult - so focus very much on stuff they need in their day-to-day life: percentages, doing "order of magnitude" estimates (one I quite like is "do I get a good estimate of the cost of my weekly shop if I just count all the items in the trolley and call it an average of a pound each?").

Also, give loads of examples. An equation like
T=d1/v1 + d2/v2 + w
presented as an abstract set of mathematical symbols is horrendous for someone who's struggled with maths. But if instead you say "It's 150 miles from here to Land's end, and google is telling me it'll take 2.5 hours driving, because it just divides 150 by the national speed limit of 30, but I know that the last 30 miles is on windy roads, so it makes much more sense to say 120 miles at 60 gives me 2 hours, plus another 30 miles at 30 gives me an extra hour, and then there's that permanent traffic jam on the western side of Bodmin moor which adds another 45 minutes, so that's 3 hours and 45 minutes... so clearly google is talking out of its arse" Suddenly the scary marks on the paper mean something!

LurcioAgain Wed 11-May-16 16:17:31

D'oh national speed limit of 60! And I was so pleased with that little example too, dammit... Why is there no edit function on here?

Tuiles Wed 11-May-16 16:29:03

I did an access course before a masters and very much enjoyed it compared to A level pure and stats. I would agree with others that teaching those things that people are likely to use is very useful - how to understand charts and graphs, percentages, conversions (miles to km, Fahrenheit to centigrade and weight conversions), dimensions of shapes - particularly circle geometry, maybe even as simple as long multiplication and division and mental math skills. Things that are relevant are much more likely to be retained, and with a solid ground in those it may them be good to move on to the more esoteric things like trig and calculus.

Also agree that trying to ground things in the real world makes it much easier to retain - I see this working with my kids they are much more likely to have confidence in a problem if they can relate to it rather than just seeing piles of letters and numbers.

Tatiana11235 Thu 12-May-16 14:30:25

Thank you for very useful suggestions!

I went for the interview yesterday and go an unconditional offer today! What a relief! =)

Tatiana11235 Thu 12-May-16 14:30:48

got an offer that is

LurcioAgain Thu 12-May-16 14:35:14


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