Philosophy for Learning and Teaching Mathematics

“I am enough of a realist to understand that I can’t reach every child, but I am more of an optimist to get up every morning and try.” This quote taken from Preston Morgan summarizes my views about teaching. It is the base on which my teaching philosophy is built. When a class has over thirty, and even over forty students one would say it’s impossible to reach all.

However, the optimist in me and knowledge gained from this course and throughout my 10 years of teaching indicates that every child is unique and have something special that they can bring to their education. Thus I aspire to create the type of atmosphere that facilitates students in meeting their full potential by tapping into what they can ‘connect’. I believe that this also applies to the teaching Mathematics.  Through dedication, perseverance, acquired pedagogical skills and a sound knowledge of how students learn Mathematics, I will be able to assist my students to “rise to the occasion." 

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I believe that those of us who have the responsibility of imparting Mathematics to others, share an awesome responsibility. This course has indeed opened my eyes to a lot of areas related to teaching that is not normally discussed. This ranges from the various roles that theories play in the teaching of Mathematics to very informative readings that deal with student learning and issues related to Mathematics.

These areas are important to the holistic development of teachers, because it prepares them for life in the classroom. This course has introduced me to topics that have helped me to sharpen my perspective regarding teaching, learning and the development of relationships.

Every student behaviour can be explained. The introduction of this elm of psychology has helped me to recognize some of the reasons for individual student behaviours. I have learnt that and a lot of my past students’ behaviours and mental processes can be explained through psychology. There is one particular theorist that stood out amongst all the theorists introduced throughout this course, Howard Gardener.

His theory stated that students learn through eight specific intelligence. These inelegancies are : words (linguistic intelligence), numbers or logic (logical-mathematical intelligence), pictures (spatial intelligence), music (musical intelligence), self-reflection (intrapersonal intelligence), a physical experience (bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence), a social experience (interpersonal intelligence), and/or an experience in the natural world. (naturalist intelligence) (Gardner, 2009).

For me, this is a clear indication of the reason individual students behave the way they do in the classroom. It could simply be that the teacher is not stimulating or facilitating a particular learning style. Students who are unengaged or unstimulated will find other ways to engage themselves in the classroom.With an understanding of why students operate the way they do where learning is concerned, this will help me to better understand myself as it relates to the delivery of and the students I’ll face on a daily basis.

Also making an impact on my views was the course reading entitled “Problems Arising from Streaming Mathematics Students in Australian Christian Secondary Schools: To Stream or Not to Stream?” Kilgour W. P. (2008). This particular reading resonated with me as a result of the fact that the institution in which I teach uses the method of streaming students, so immediately I was intrigued. This reading opened my eyes to various areas that have never really crossed my mind where streaming is concerned.

The main findings in this book indicate that it “polarises, creates elitism, sets low expectations for lower stream students as well as teachers, wastes time, and encourages ‘segregation.’” This was an eye-opener as a result of the fact that looking back on the pupils who were placed into this “lower group”, they truly displayed behaviour that depicted two or more of the areas mentioned above. Knowing what I know now, this is definitely an area of concern that deserves looking into, as to whether the “good out ways the bad.”    

Reflecting on this course, an additional area that had me thinking was my course notes that dealt with issues related to mathematics. This area broadened my horizon as it delved into areas such as environmental and personal factors along with gender issues, just to name a few. For me, gender issues stood out to some extent. My reason for this is that it had me thinking about the way in which I dealt with my female students in comparison to my male students in terms of disciplinary measures.

I realized that gender truly has an effect on teaching/interaction between teacher and student as I had a tendency to be more lenient with my female students. This actually proved gender bias as this course taught me. This course has helped me to develop a sound infrastructure of techniques and philosophies that I can use in instruction/teaching and advising students.

References

Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. (2009). Journal of Singing, 66(2), 193–199. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eue&AN=508109188&site=ehost-live
Kilgour W. P. (2008).  Problems Arising from Streaming Mathematics Students in Australian
Christian Secondary Schools: To Stream or Not to Stream? TEACH Journal of
Christian Education, 2(1), 033-034



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