Image for post
Image for post
Flamboyance: Teaching maths out of the box

“[They] were not qualified to teach it, did not have stories to tell students and did not personally identify with the subject and so lacked confidence and ‘flamboyance’ in their teaching,” says Dr Linda Hobbs.

Almost four out of 10 educators teaching high-school mathematics (years 7 to 10 inclusive) in Australia aren’t qualified to do so, according to the Australian Council of Educational Research.

It’s often cited as a reason for Australian students’ mostly declining maths scores in the Program for International Student Assessments (PISA) ranking. And, with fewer senior high school students tackling harder maths subjects, concern is growing about fewer of them going onto university maths. It might follow then, there’ll be fewer maths graduates. …


Image for post
Image for post
An unprompted piece of artwork from one of my students while I was his substitute math teacher (good likeness to me, but off task, has a typo and I definitely wasn’t teaching the class for ‘the pay’).

So, you’re a substitute high school teacher and have just been handed your day sheet. There’s a load of math classes on there. You scout around staff room desks for lesson plans — some are sketchy on details. Oh, I didn’t mention you’re not trained as a math high school teacher yet? That’s me to a tee — but I seek out and often get math classes to cover.

You never know what topic of math you’ll be teaching. And just when you think, yeah, I did math x years ago, you remember that it’s not that simple. You not only need to understand it, but have that helicopter view to simply articulate the underpinning concepts in several ways so it connects with your learners. Math is concepts and processes and then some. It’s elegan. And so linear. …


Image for post
Image for post
Mathematics staring us in the face in everyday life with Fibonacci numbers.

Why is it not okay to say ‘I can’t read’, but okay to say you can’t do maths?

That was a question posed at an ABC TV Q&A panel discussion on the Australian education system, broadcast on 8 October 2019 (and available to view here).

It seems like the groundswell of people who hate, fear or are frustrated by math are in the majority. Struggle and disdain of math is a cause that appears to unite many people, so much so that it has becomes the norm.

What will it take to get a tipping point and swing attitudes the other way? …


If you’re a provisional day-to-day substitute teacher in school chances are you’re finding it tricky to get a school principal to say ‘yes’ to supervising you to become accredited or fully registered, depending on where you live.

Maybe you’ve even completed blocks of temporary teaching at different schools and been fobbed off when you mention the ‘A’ word. Schools are happy to schedule you for work, to fill their holes day-to-day, but you’re on your own when need an accreditation supervisor. That’s been my experience.

Been fobbed off?

Perhaps you recognise what I’m talking about here. You might have got these responses whenever you’ve asked a principal to help you out on the journey to full…


Image for post
Image for post
The front cover of ‘Teacher’, by Gabbie Stroud. Published June 2018 (Allen & Unwin, Australia)

Gabbie Stroud’s novel Teacher has been flying off the shelves in major department stores as teachers around the country get their nose — and minds — into it.

As a memoir of a former teacher’s years in NSW, Canadian and UK primary schools, Teacher is harrowing and poignant — and it only took a temporary chink off my idealism for the profession.

I was chatting with other teachers recently about what I thought of the book and the resounding response was ‘I wasn’t sure if I should read it’. …


Image for post
Image for post
Crunching away at the figures … now finished revising Year 10 maths. Yes!

As one of the many casual teachers in NSW, Australia, I’ve struggled to find permanent work. Yet I’m hearing that maths high school teachers are in short supply. Become one of them and you’re quickly nabbed, guaranteed a job for life. The penny has dropped. Why not retrain from primary teaching, I thought?

I’m making it happen some 35 years after I passed ‘General Mathematics’ in my final year of school. In 2017, I completed an online course to help me revised the maths students learn up to the end of year 10. …

About

Margaret Paton

Education writer MTeach|GradDip Comm Mgmt |BA Journalism

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store