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CTET Maths Pedagogy Study Notes

Maths Pedagogy
Mathematics
Maths Pedagogy
Vision for School Mathematics
Maths Pedagogy
The Curriculum at different stages


Mathematics

Developing children's abilities for mathematisation is the main goal of mathematics education. The narrow aim of school mathematics is to develop 'useful' capabilities, particularly those relating to numeracy–numbers, number operations, measurements, decimals and percentages. The higher aim is to develop the child's resources to think and reason mathematically, to pursue assumptions to their logical conclusion and to handle abstraction. It includes a way of doing things, and the ability and the attitude to formulate and solve problems.

This calls for a curriculum that is ambitious, coherent and teaches important principles of mathematics. It should be ambitious in the sense that it seeks to achieve the higher aim mentioned above, rather than only the narrower aim. It should be coherent in the sense that the variety of methods and skills available piecemeal (in arithmetic, algebra, geometry) cohere into an ability to address problems that come from other domains such as science and social studies in high school. It should be important in the sense that students feel the need to solve such problems, that teachers and students find it worth their time and energy to address these problems. The twin concerns of the Mathematics curriculum are: what can mathematics education do to engage the mind of every student, and how can it strengthen the student's resources?

As mathematics is a compulsory subject at the secondary stage, access to quality mathematics education is the right of every child. In the context of univeralisation of education, the first question to ask is, what mathematics can be offered in eight years of schooling that will stand every child in good stead rather than be a preparation for higher secondary education alone? Most of the skills taught in primary school mathematics are useful. However, a reorientation of the curriculum towards addressing the 'higher aims' mentioned above will make better use of the time that children spend in school in terms of the problem-solving and analytical skills that it builds, and in preparing children to better meet a wide variety of problems in life. Also, the tall shape of mathematics (where mastery of one topic is a prerequisite for the next) can be de-emphasised in favour of a broader-based curriculum with more topics that starts from the basics. This will serve the needs of different learners better.



Vision for School Mathematics

  • Children learn to enjoy mathematics rather than fear it. 
  • Children learn important mathematics: Mathematics is more than formulas and mechanical procedures. 
  • Children see mathematics as something to talk about, to communicate through, to discuss among themselves, to work together on. 
  • Children pose and solve meaningful problems. 
  • Children use abstractions to perceive relation-ships, to see structures, to reason out things, to argue the truth or falsity of statements. 
  • Children understand the basic structure of Mathematics: Arithmetic, algebra, geometry and trigonometry, the basic content areas of school Mathematics, all offer a methodology for abstraction, structuration and generalisation. 
  • Teachers engage every child in class with the conviction that everyone can learn mathematics. Many general tactics of problem solving can be taught progressively during the different stages of school: abstraction, quantification, analogy, case analysis, reduction to simpler situations, even guess-and-verify exer cises, are useful in many problem-solving contexts. Moreover, when children learn a variety of approaches (over time), their toolkit becomes richer, and they also learn which approach is the best. Children also need exposure to the use of heuristics, or rules of thumb, rather than only believing that Mathematics is an 'exact science'.

Visualising proof

Why is 3X5 = 5X3?

Three groups of five Five groups of three-

solutions is also essential skill. When a farmer estimates the yield of a particular crop, he uses considerable skills in estimation, approximation and optimisation. School Mathematics can play a significant role in developing such useful skills.

Visualisation and representation are skills that Mathematics can help to develop. Modelling situations using quantities, shapes and forms are the best use of mathematics. Mathematical concepts can be represented in multiple ways, and these representations can serve a variety of purposes in different contexts. All of this adds to the power of Mathematics. For example, a function may be represented in algebraic form or in the form of a graph. The representation p/q can be used to denote a fraction as a part of the whole, but can also denote the quotient of two numbers, p and q. Learning this about fractions is as important, if not more, than learning the arithmetic of fractions.

There is also a need to make connections between Mathematics and other subjects of study. When children learn to draw graphs, they should also be encouraged to think of functional relationships in the sciences, including geology. Our children need to appreciate the fact that Mathematics is an effective instrument in the study of science.

The importance of systematic reasoning in Mathematics cannot be overemphasised, and is intimately tied to notions of aesthetics and elegance so dear to mathematicians. Proof is important, but in addition to deductive proof, children should also learn when pictures and constructions provide proof. Proof is a process that convinces a sceptical adversary; school mathematics should encourage proof as a systematic way of argumentation. The aim should be to develop arguments, evaluate arguments, make and investigate conjectures, and understand that there are various methods of reasoning.

Mathematical communication is precise and employs unambiguous use of language and rigour in formulation, which are important characteristics of mathematical treatment. The use of jargon in Mathematics is deliberate, conscious and stylised. Mathematicians discuss what is appropriate notation since good notation is held in high esteem and believed to aid thought. As children grow older, they should be taught to appreciate the significance of such conventions.

Problem posing


  • If you know that 235 + 367 = 602, how much is 234 + 369? How did you find the answer? 
  • Change any one digit in 5384. Did the number increase or decrease? By how much?and their use. For instance, this means that setting up of equations should get as much coverage as solving them.
In discussing many of these skills and processes, we have referred to a multiplicity of approaches and procedures. These are all crucial for liberating school Mathematics from the tyranny of applying them only to those algorithms that are taught.


The Curriculum

At the pre-primary stage, all learning occurs through play rather than through didactic communication. Rather than the rote learning of the number sequence, children need to learn and understand, in the context of small sets, the connection between word games and counting, and between counting and quantity. Making simple comparisons and classifications along one dimension at a time, and identifying shapes and symmetries, are appropriate skills to acquire at this stage. Encouraging children to use language to freely express one's thoughts and emotions, rather than in predetermined ways, is extremely important at this and at later stages.

Having children develop a positive attitude towards, and a liking for, Mathematics at the primary stage is as important, if not more than the cognitive skills and concepts that they acquire. Mathematical games, puzzles and stories help in developing a positive attitude and in making connections between mathematics and everyday thinking. It is important to note that mathematics is not just arithmetic. Besides numbers and number operations, due importance must be given to shapes, spatial understanding, patterns, measurement and data handling. The curriculum must explicitly incorporate the progression that learners make from the concrete to the abstract while acquiring concepts. Apart from computational skills, stress must be laid on identifying, expressing and explaining patterns, on estimation and approximation in solving problems, on making connections, and on the development of skills of language in communication and reasoning.

At the upper primary stage, students get the first taste of the power of Mathematics through the application of powerful abstract concepts that compress previous learning and experience. This enables them to revisit and consolidate basic concepts and skills learnt at the primary stage, which is essential from the point of view of achieving universal mathematical literacy. Students are introduced to algebraic notation and its use in solving problems and in generalisation, to the systematic study of space and shapes, and for consolidating their knowledge of measurement. Data handling, representation and interpretation form a significant part of the ability of dealing with information in general, which is an essential 'life skill'. The learning at this stage also offers an opportunity to enrich students' spatial reasoning and visualisation skills.

At the secondary stage, students begin to perceive the structure of Mathematics as a discipline. They become familiar with the characteristics of mathematical communication: carefully defined terms and concepts, the use of symbols to represent them, precisely stated propositions, and proofs justifying propositions. These aspects are developed particularly in the area of geometry. Students develop their facility with algebra, which is important not only in the application of mathematics, but also within mathematics in providing justifications and proofs. At this stage, students integrate the many concepts and skills that they have learnt into a problem-solving ability. Mathematical modelling, data analysis and interpretation taught at this stage can consolidate a high level of mathematical literacy. Individual and group exploration of connections and patterns, visualisation and generalisation, and making and proving conjectures are important at this stage, and can be encouraged through the use of appropriate tools that include concrete models as in Mathematics laboratories and computers.

The aim of the Mathematics curriculum at the higher secondary stage is to provide students with an appreciation of the wide variety of the application of Mathematics, and equip them with the basic tools that enable such application. A careful choice between the often conflicting demands of depth versus breadth needs to be made at this stage. The rapid explosion of Mathematics as a discipline, and of its range of application, favours an increase in the breadth of coverage. Such increase must be dictated by mathematical considerations of the importance of topics to be included. Topics that are more naturally the province of other disciplines may be left out of the Mathematics curriculum. The treatment of topics must have an objective, that is, the communication of mathematical insights and concepts, which naturally arouse the interest and curiosity of students.


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