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your attitude to maths

(72 Posts)
JessJones93 Sat 29-Sep-12 16:42:38

ive just started training as a teacher and i am working through the maths unit, i have luckily always just taken a shine to maths (probs also because of my maths teacher dad) but lacked confidence in more essay based subjects (like english) and average public response is to take more confidence in essay based subjects and take a general dislike to maths - i don't really understand this because, as i said, i grew up in a maths loving household which seems to be the polar opposite of many houses in the UK

what about you? it would be really helpful to me if you could share your attitude to maths and why you have that opinion (bad maths tuition at school? boring? etc) and do your children have a similar opinion on the subject as you?

thanks smile

sittinginthesun Sat 29-Sep-12 16:50:09

I always felt you either "get it" or you don't, hence some people struggle and others find it very easy.

Part of the reason I always thought thus was because the children who were good at maths never actually seemed to put any effort in, unlike essay based subjects.

I knew degree level students who messed about, had amazing social lives, but still got Firsts.

I've never said anything to my children, and both seem to "get it".

prettydaisies Sat 29-Sep-12 17:13:10

My 3 children are all good at maths. My husband and I both did degrees which included maths. It's something we've discussed before. Are the children good at maths because we talk about it a lot at home or is it genetic? Probably a bit of both. I liked maths and was good at it at school. My dad has a language degree and my mum a science degree. 2 of my grandparents were very quick at arithmetic. I enjoy maths more and am better at it than both my siblings. I guess my teachers must have had some input too!
Sorry a lot of rambling, don't know if it really helps.

msrisotto Sat 29-Sep-12 17:24:55

The very word strikes fear in my heart! I was never good at it, many an evening was spent in tears after my dad's voice got louder and louder as he got more frustrated trying to help me with my homework. First problem with that was that he had learned a different method than I had and tried to teach me his way when I was trying to do it the way I'd half picked up in the lesson.

It wasn't that it was boring, I just found it really hard. I couldn't/didn't learn my timetables by rote.

Having one to me tuition from a sympathetic teacher helped. At GCSE time, my teacher let me study my way which was not always with the class, as I went over vital things I knew I hadn't understood properly and made the decision to just sacrifice a point in the exam by ignoring long division (I never did learn it!) and focusing on other topics that were worth more points and I had a chance of learning.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 29-Sep-12 17:31:43

I never found it hard, although it wasn't my favourite subject. DH is v good, and is an Engineer. DS is pretty good (level 6 in year 6), DD above average but professes to hate it.

No fear of Maths in this house, but differing opinions as to its pleasures. Science though, we all love. And reading.

We're all mathematically inclined in this house, give me maths worksheet homework over "imagine you're a Roman" any day. DH and I are both scientists. I love the logic of it and the fact that there are lots of ways to arrive at the same answer. I would say for myself that I'm definitely better than average, but not brilliant, I had to work very hard indeed for A level Pure in the 80s and still only got an E. The DCs both struggle a bit with literacy but are fine with maths. I might still struggle with helping the DCs when they get older as everything has changed (my DCs are in Yr 2 and 4) at a school parents meeting about it a whole room of parents several of whom were scientists or bookkeepers/accountants were completely puzzled by the modern techniques.

Happygirl77 Sat 29-Sep-12 17:39:41

My hubby (an actuary) has a degree in Economics and a maths teacher for a mother. I, on the other hand, have an English degree and am a copywriter. It's always a bit of a lighthearted competition between us at parents' evenings to see if our dc will be mathsy or wordsy! smile DD1 is "a bit of a maths whizz" although she is beautifully creative in her writing. DD2 starts school next year but is already interested in the origins of words (why is a mummy called a mummy?), unprompted I might add! DS showing no signs yet but only a baby...

I just don't have a mathematical/scientific mind. It appeals to me not a jot! I could do it if I applied myself but it doesn't thrill me like poetry and plays and

RosemaryandThyme Sat 29-Sep-12 17:55:47

I taught Accountancy for ten years, my biggest hurdle was always getting those who had negative experiances of maths to realise they could do it, and building their confidence to have a go.

If you truly set out to teach maths to all children you need multiple ways of explaining the same concept.

To gather this knowledge you need more than one lifetime and more than one set way of understanding each concept - ie you will need the experiance and expertise of collegues and professionals (lots more than willing to help at the TES website_).

For example (picks up methphorical white board pen......_)

If you set out to teach percentages you will have in your tool kit one preferred method that you personally use, the PGCE should give you at least two more, with three ways (to learn exactly the same concept_) you begin to teach a class of 30, three will get the first way, 5 more will understand either the second or third method and two of the first three will understand all three ways, eight children will vaguley follow but not be able to apply to a questions, fourteen wont have a scooby.
In the staff room you scratch your head and mention your concern, a voice from the art department mentions method four, the head of literacy recalls how they learnt with method five, the dinner lady passing through laughingly says here you lot you do it like this, hubby at dinner says crickey that's hard I always do it like this.
You use every tool in your box and buy the end of the week every child "get's it".

auntevil Sat 29-Sep-12 18:06:14

I was good at maths - DH is an accountant - DS1 and 2 very good at maths - DS3 is OK, but better at literacy (also from his mum - me!!)
I think that there is a lot to do with genetic disposition. I think that some people just get it, some people can learn the concepts and are passable, and that some people just struggle.
My advice - make it fun, make it relevant to their ages and make it as practical as possible rather than sitting at a desk.

LemarchandsBox Sat 29-Sep-12 18:12:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

beezmum Sat 29-Sep-12 18:36:57

I was rubbish at Maths. Dd1 was going the same way until I realised that 'confidence' really means liking it because you know you can do it. We worked hard at the basics and gradually she got better. Now it's her favourite subject but I am sure that was cheating fate as she had no 'natural' aptitude.

juniper904 Sat 29-Sep-12 19:08:47

I did teacher training too, and was a bit miffed to discover that all of my maths understanding would be tested by writing an essay. I hadn't written essays since GCSE, and chose science and maths as A Levels. It was a shock to the system.

From my own experience, maths has always been easy. The only thing that I found hard was memorising formulae (mainly because I didn't dedicate much time to it).

Essays, on the other hand, would get me down. My first few essays at uni were quite poor, but by my final year I was getting 1sts. I think, like maths, it's a case of working out a method to solve the problem. I developed a method for writing essays (and threw in the same words each time!) and it seemed to work for me.

I am not a natural linguist. I like grammar because, like maths, it follows rules.

Happygirl77 Sat 29-Sep-12 19:18:25

RosemaryandThyme, that is so interesting! I never work out percentages the 'right' way and didn't realise that it was ok to use my own method to find the right answer! (To calculate 83% of 1673, for example, I would do: 1673 / 100 then x 83. Hubby (actuary and v mathsy) would 1673 * .83 I can't understand that (!) so have no confidence doing it that way though I know it works!)

CassandraApprentice Sat 29-Sep-12 19:19:43

My DDad was very good at maths and helped me at home.

DH is exceptionally good at maths but had little support from his parents.

Both DC at age to do maths at school have initially loved it. However DD1 had a bad year as one teacher kept telling her maths was hard, next year was better but the teacher clearly didn't quiet 'get' a few things about maths.

The school doesn't encourage us to help with maths - not really as they don't want the DC confused. We've resorted to Maths Factor now - to build the DC confidence and it's clear the DC are suddenly getting numbers and watching that made me more certain that I can help the DC without confusing them.

learnandsay Sun 30-Sep-12 11:34:28

I started to hate maths from the first year of secondary school. We had an old male teacher who would chalk equations and rub them out while he was talking. I used to read adventure books under the table. It was the only subject at school that I didn't like and I think it was because of the teacher(s). Later on I did stats in my degree and I found out that cranking out formulaic answers really isn't all that hard, it can be a bit dull sometimes, but the trick is to keep going and pay attention. I really don't see why I couldn't have done it at school. But I think even now, if you put me back in the same class with the same teachers at my age now, (even if I knew the answers) you'd still get the same result. (I'd hate it and read adventure books.)

gabsid Sun 30-Sep-12 17:12:52

I think its important and I don't get that attitude, many seem to have here, that its ok to be 'crap' at maths - and at first I didn't realise just how 'crap' some people were. I found it embarassing and would't brag with it.

I was never great but I felt it was necessary and important to daily life, at least up to GCSE level, and that is achievable.

DS (7) was/is struggling up to Y2 and we sat down daily and practiced a bit in Y2. Now in Y3 he is about average but we still sit down 10 min each day + times tables. He will get there, and at least get a good GCSE or whatever it will be.

For my DS I think it was a matter of too much too early. Aged 4 he had no interest and couldn't even count accurately when he started R. Now aged 7 it slowly starts falling into place a bit more with my support. But maybe many were put off aged 4 and always thought it was hard and difficult?

radicalsubstitution Sun 30-Sep-12 18:31:51

I am, at heart, a very lazy person. I loved maths and science at school partly because I didn't have to work hard at them. There was one correct answer and, as long as you understand the concepts, you don't have to work hard to revise for exams. It wasn't like French, where there was loads of vocabulary and verbs to learn. I always hated writing essays for English, as I was never very good at waffling about the right points about a book (although I have always been an avid reader).

I completely flunked A level maths though. Like Learnandsay, I had a really dull teacher who (although probably very intelligent) just did't 'get' teaching. I got lost along the way, and just stopped going to lessons. I began to feel like I'd reached a plateau and couldn't improve any further.

This all changed at University, when I had the most fantastic lecturerer. He was almost totally blind but was a fantastic teacher. I finally understood integration and partial fractions. If i am only half as good a teacher as he was, I won't be doing too badly!

Fuzzymum1 Mon 01-Oct-12 10:17:07

My husband and I are both much more confident with maths and sciences than english and languages. Our older boys are both the same and are very much like us. Our youngest on the other hand has been fascinated by letters and words from a very young age and is far more likely to write than play with numbers.

anice Mon 01-Oct-12 14:05:16

I think it is a great subject and one on which you can build a good career. Its very logical and relatively easy until it becomes rather philosophical towards the end of a degree in pure maths.

Now English and the mainstrean arts subjects on the other hand, are all touchy-feely, frustrating, "no right answers", terrifically hard work type stuff and I have no idea how anyone can ever really get them.

In other words, it all depends upon whether you are artistic or logical...

GooseyLoosey Mon 01-Oct-12 14:08:09

ds and I "get maths". dd (8) struggles more with it. I think the problem lies in the fact that if you do not get a small thing early on, then everything else that is piled on top of that does not quite click. The key for dd is to repeat and repeat things that she is not sure of until she gets it and then she can progress just fine. The problem arises where the thing that does not click is never addressed.

lljkk Mon 01-Oct-12 14:09:21

I always thought math was very tough & tedious; it seemed that way for me (although I was avg at it, above avg even). But my parents saw math as tough, passed that view on. I only ever had one brilliant math teacher, calculus at Uni.

Belatedly as an adult I realised that I'm pretty good at math & came to relish the challenge of math even when it didn't come easily to me. Now I try hard to help DC see the utility & beauty of math & numbers.

anice Mon 01-Oct-12 17:34:24

lljkk - that's it exactly... maths is beautiful! Like poetry or music! But if you are tone deaf, then...!

pointythings Mon 01-Oct-12 18:25:28

I found maths very hard at school but am very good at it now - largely self-taught at university. I have two DDs who are both very good at maths and when I look at the methods used to teach them I'm very envy because I just know I'd have found maths a lot easier at school had I been taught in that way.

notcitrus Mon 01-Oct-12 18:56:21

I don't think I've ever really been taught maths, except for my first year at secondary. In primary school, it was all doing really obvious exercises, copying the examples if necessary. And in secondary from second year, my top set had the useless head of maths, who told us to follow the examples in the book - and luckily 99% of it was still obvious to my logical mind.

Unfortunately this broke down when it stopped being obvious - when i turned up and when inverses stopped being 1 over the thing - and I got a U in AO maths and had a terrible time with A level chemistry and degree science. No idea how to learn it, but my brain just couldn't do the leaps like cross-multiplying that the lecturers took for granted. Must be how many five year olds feel...

GrimmaTheNome Mon 01-Oct-12 19:12:17

DH and I were both pretty good at everything at school - both scientists. DD is a chip off the old blocks, loves science and maths. She's so pleased that at last in yr9 they're streaming for maths so that she doesn't have to listen to obvious stuff being re-explained.

I've one friend who's an extreme dyslexic who must think in maths/computer code but has a hard time stringing a sentence together; another highly literate, articulate law student who couldn't scrape O-level maths. I think she'd been to a good school so maybe dyscalculic (wasn't recognised back then prob).

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