Thursday, October 16, 2008

Surfing & Structured and sequenced content

When at uni, in my last year I sent a letter to the Dean about the mathematics course. The gist of it was that I thought that the course needed more structured and sequenced content.

It seems this is becoming a more popular view. When 'mature age' students leave university they have a real disadvantage as a lot of mathematics is not fresh in your mind (as it is when you leave school) and you have no real idea what is to be taught to what year group and how. You have to muddle along for a few years before it is all sorted out.

There is also a pressure for all of the kids to feel successful all of the time. To achieve this, typically teachers dumb the course down a little. As you get more experienced you can lift the bar higher without students feeling hopeless, get them to 'ride the wave' so to speak.

The idea of mandating a minimum curriculum (and setting a syllabus) in mathematics for each year group is a good idea. By setting a standard this will assist graduate teachers know what needs to be taught, where the course is going in following years and make for an easier transition when moving between schools. The scope and sequence documents are a good start, but we probably need to now go further and make it compulsory to use these as the minimum benchmark for teaching mathematics K-10.

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