This post isn’t primarily about the question in the title but it does relate a little bit to it. Although there’s a low entry level for people to study Bachelor of education, to become primary teachers, it’s actually really important that they are at least achieving at Year 10 maths.
Why do primary teachers need year 10 maths level skill? They’re teaching way below that level. But primary teachers’ maths skills can’t be at the same level or lower than the students that they’re teaching. Studies suggest that low belief in maths skills and also low maths skills, affects the students’ and their beliefs and who’s good at maths and who’s not.
The article, “Female Maths anxiety affects girls’ Maths achievement”, describes how the female teachers’ thinking and level of skill in Maths, affects and greatly influence how their female students think and perceive Maths. This resonates deeply with me because I was never strong at Maths, thinking of this subject like leftover rice; you can eat it but eventually, it would become inedible and thrown out.
My abilities and how I approach Maths affects and influences my student’s own attitudes and beliefs on Maths. The article uses statistics of an entry class in the united states, of which about 90% of teachers were female. At the end of the year, the girls who believed in the stereotype that boys are better at Maths than girls, scored less than everyone else. This result showed that female teachers’ own anxiety in Maths influenced girls more than boys. However, I believe that my Maths anxiety can also lead into Teaching Anxiety which in turn, affects the attitudes and learning of both boys and girls.
Anyone can learn Maths at any age and to the level that they want. The Youtube video, “IM2 MATH Boosting Math BOALER (“Boosting Maths”) talks about a growth mindset and how anyone can learn Maths to the level that they want. This requires a lot of scaffolding and intrinsic motivation. I believe this lack of intrinsic motivation is due in part to the influencing factors of the students such as the attitudes and mindset of the teacher. This is something I need to be conscientious of when I am on practicum and when I enter the workforce, so that I can be a positive Maths role model.
A year ago, when I was in the process of enrolling in Laidlaw College. I had to go to my aunty because she was also my accountant.
When I told her I wanted to be a primary teacher, she replied with this;
“You’ll never be a teacher because you’re not good at maths.” (more about this in the link).
Her response made me realise something critical. There are many students in school who are struggling with Maths. However, this does not mean that they cannot later on study to become engineers or physicians. Perhaps I could help these students reach their full math potential, through learning from mistakes, so that their Maths level would not limit their university and career options. My beliefs are confirmed by the Boosting Maths Video that talks about the brain’s plasticity and how we grow through making and recognising our mistakes.
I did not have a great mathematical start in life, but I can still learn the skills I need to become a proficient teacher. The article, “Stewards of the Created Order”, states that, “…faith helps us makes connections between truth and applicability.” I connect this with the verse, “”My Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV). God gives me the strength where I lack, so that I can continue to grow my knowledge and teach others in a way that honors and glorifies God. Through God’s will and love for me, I can connect the truth the Gospel in practcal ways when learning and teaching Mathematics.
You may have guessed by now that I’m a bit hypocritical to say that teachers needs atleast year 10 maths skills, when I myself do not have this. However, that’s the beauty of being life long leaners and having a growth mindset. These two things means that what I didn’t learn before, I can learn now. As long as I have the purpose and the determination, I can achieve in maths at the level that I need to be at in order to show my students that maths can be fun, maths can be understood and most of all, anyone can do maths. I will shamelessly tell them, “If I can do it, so can you.”
It is like walking on water. You need to forget about the wind, the waves, the rational part of your mind saying, “This is impossible”, and never lose sight of Jesus, the one who can take you to the impossible and turn it into, “I’m possible”.