Tuesday, August 29, 2006

how do primary school teachers actually teach kids maths?

With chalk she drew a white circle on the board.

The children watched, pencils poised over paper.

Lily pressed her teeth into her lower lip, 'I'm going to draw it perfect this time'.

John thought about his mother, who was in work. 'I wish she was able to stay at home like the other John's mother'.

Lana couldn't resist and made a mark on the sheet, just a small dot. 'Why did I do that?' she thought, and looked left and right. 'They haven't noticed' she thought, and rubbed it out, brushing the curls of rubber away first with her hand, and then with a deep breath.

The teacher drew a line across the circle.

'So children', she said, 'what has happened to the circle?'

Lana stretched her arm high above her head, so far that her body was forced to stretch with it.

The teacher waited.

John looked behind him at the fancy dress box, where the hat sat. 'If we dress up, I want to be the guard, I would be a good guard, make all the bad people into the jail so all the people are happy' he thought.

Lily looked at Lana and thought, 'I wish I knew like Lana, she always knows the answer.'

The teacher spoke, 'Katie, what do you think has happened to the circle'.

Katie looked at the circle. 'It is hard to talk if you don't know' she thought.

The teacher smiled at her, 'just tell me what happened when I drew the line'.

Katie guessed, 'it broke the circle into bits? I don't know Miss, is that what happened?'

She nodded, 'Katie is right, isn't she? The circle broke into two pieces, didn't it?'

The class chanted, 'yes Miss'.

Teacher gave them a moment to look at the circle again.

'One, two, I think I see two' Lily thought.

John looked at the board, 'where are the...I don't see two circles?' he thought

Lana stared at the board, 'two… two…' she thought

Katie smiled 'I got it right' she nodded, 'how did I get it right?'

The teacher then took the chalk and wrote the digit '1' in the first half, and '1' in the second.

All four children smiled, relieved. They understood. The circle was broken into two.

The teacher then took the chalk and underneath she wrote '1 + 1 = 2'

Lily bit her lip again. 'What does that mean?' she thought.

Lana smiled, 'this is like the tv programme Daddy showed me' she thought.

John blinked and didn't think.

Katie looked out the window 'I wonder if my teddybear at home today is lonely or if he's having fun'.

The teacher spoke, 'one and one is equal to two. One half of a circle and one half of a circle are equal to two halves of a circle'.

She waited.

Repeat after me, 'one and one are equal to two'.

The children all spoke 'one and one are equal to two'.

The teacher asked them to repeat it again, and to copy it into their books. 'I hope they understand' she thought.

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