What is the goal of Mathematic Teaching?
Today, I stepped into class with a contradicting state of mind. I was dreading it, as Math was the sole subject that I passed only during the final papers. However, some form of anticipation slowly forms, as I may be able to pick up some form of knowledge to go about teaching the young ones in class.
Stepping into a class with Tangram on the table and materials on the lecturer’s table made me go thinking, “Wow! Seems like it’s going to be an interesting lesson!” It made me excited and isn’t this the way children will react to also?
I have learnt tonight about Jerome Bruner and his CPA approach as well as the Pentagon Model with its emphasis for problem solving. I have also “learnt” to ask Google a lot! As I asked Google, “CPA approach Singapore math” and clicked on the first link, http://www.mathsnoproblem.co.uk/concrete-pictorial-abstract, we can find Dr. Yeap’s video of CPA approach!
Dr. Yeap had clearly modeled the 3 ways of teaching in his lesson, which is greatly helpful to a beginning teacher like me.
- Learning through exploration.
- Learning through scaffolding, prompting and asking questions. Challenging children to attempt higher level using the same materials. Just like concrete material like the Tangram to form a rectangle with in multiple ways and pieces.
- Teaching by role modeling. For example, modeling thinking skills such as, “I wonder how” and “I wonder why”.
The goal of Mathematic teaching is for children to handle abstract and the process is important to bring children through the C-P-A approach. It is the knowledge we want children to construct on their own and it is one thing that you want to forget but cannot.
“Why do we learn Math?”
A question I often asked myself during my student years. Have I applied any logarithm or algebra equation in my daily life now? The answer may be “no” but Math is part of us. Simply, we need math knowledge to read the time, use our fingers to count, recognize different properties of shapes and patterns as well as solve problems using basic logic.
For a piece of news to be reliable, it needs to be backed up by facts and likewise for a Scientist’s result to be credible, it had to be backed up by countless data and researches. Being a preschool educator, we are predominantly governed by theories in how children learn in our teaching.
Two main theories that I would like to touch on will be the;
- Constructivism (Jean Piaget): Children can construct their knowledge through their personal experiences in learning, reflecting on those experiences and build on their prior knowledge to construct new concepts. They can be guided on and facilitated in their learning based on what they have known.
- Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky): Learners can be supported in their learning by others such as their peers, teachers or even parents who are more informed in the subject that they are learning. Children can then reach their ZPD to scaffold their learning under this sociocultural theory.
Once, my 5-year-old learner sprouted out, “I am bad with numbers”, during a counting activity. I was taken aback for this statement was what I often said in my younger days. I have learned that no one is ever bad with numbers, it may just be that you have not enjoyed the process of learning. Learning math is no longer the same as when we were younger based on worksheets and countless rote learning. It has evolved to using technology and a variety of materials to garner children’s attention and engage them in fun learning. This mindset has to be changed and more importantly, for this young learner who have a longer way to go than us.
“Thinking and talking about mathematics instead of focusing on the “one right answer” is a strategy that will serve us well in becoming a society where all citizens are confident that they can do math” – Van, . W. J. A., & Bay-Williams, J., Karp, S., 2013
With the above statement, parents can also be a positive model for their children, the confidence and right attitude to approach math and overcome, perhaps our fear in this subject!
Believe in them to approach Math with the productive struggle to problem solve rather than focusing on the end answer.