As a Mathematics faculty, we share a common belief that teaching students to think mathematically is more impactful than rote learning the procedures to solve problems. Students need to understand the ‘why’ behind mathematics concepts if they are to be agile and future-proofed problem solvers.
For many of us, reflecting on our personal experience of Mathematics at secondary school, we may have been left wondering about the ‘why’ behind the mathematics concepts. How we were instructed was with “Procedural mathematics,” which teaches students to solve problems by applying a series of steps to do.
“Conceptual mathematics” is mathematics instruction that clearly explains the reasons why operations work as they do. Underlying concepts are made clear and this approach allows our students to engage in mathematical thinking, so when faced with unfamiliar problems and scenarios, they will better be able to apply their reasoning skills. Once students understand a concept, they’re able to compress the reasoning in their working minds and work more efficiently and intuitively, and the overlap of the two approaches can then become evident. Our approach sees conceptual learning start in our youngest years and continues throughout so that students build the fluency where both approaches are needed for success in the senior years.
How this influences Senior Studies
At SCAS we advise our senior students (Years 11 and 12) to undertake the standard of mathematics that they feel they can achieve while considering which course allows them to access tertiary studies.
NESA recommends the Mathematics Advanced (2 Unit) course as the most appropriate for university courses such as the Life Sciences, Business, Finance, Technology, and Education.
The advanced courses and the HSC examinations are more than ever asking students to show their conceptual understanding which reinforces the approach across our classes. We believe a conceptual approach simply makes for better mathematicians.
There have been several reports and articles that indicate students are abandoning high-level subjects. We strongly believe that our approach leads to students that are prepared for their life beyond secondary school and builds their grit and confidence to tackle mathematics that is avoided by many students across the state. Our Mathematics elective in Stage 5, a largely unique course offered at SCAS, has consistently had a large class of budding mathematicians looking to enrich their understanding. The number of SCAS students undertaking both Mathematics Advanced and Extension subjects are over-represented when comparing to many like schools.
I would like to remind all families and students that the Mathematics faculty provides Homework Help for Secondary students to seek remedial assistance AND extension opportunities every morning of the week. Students are free to drop in, and teachers are available to answer questions and provide direction so students can work towards their personal best.
Mathematics Help for Secondary School Students
Years 7 to 12 Mathematics Help Centre runs every morning from 8.00 am to 8.50 am in Room 15.0.10
|Mr Daniel Zavone
|Dr Janine Stewart