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Why hurry when Constructing Meaning?

February 28, 2012

My team recently ran a workshop on “Mathematics in the PYP”.  I wanted to focus more on the “how we learn Math’ rather than all the knowledge we want our children to learn from  math.  As I shared my part of the workshop I got parents to tell me about how they FEEL about mathematics – where they feel confident, afraid, intimidated and so forth.  They were only willing to share their experiences once I had shared mine. I must say that when I was in school i was very afraid of learning math and felt very threatened by the whole experience.  30 years later I’m still recovering!  It seems that I’m not the only one feeling like this!

I really wanted to help parents understand the beliefs about learning mathematics in the PYP.  I spent some time on the “How children learn Mathematics, figure 1, page 1 Math Scope and Sequence. In doing this I realized personally how quickly we want children to construct meaning as quickly as possible – it is as if we are in a hurry!

I recalled a memory when I was 5 years old and the teacher giving us Cuisenaire rods and sitting in what seemed a VERY large circle having to do EXACTLY what our teacher wanted us to do with them.  It was very stressful!  In those days it was ok for a teacher to smack a child which terrified us!  It seems that we were in a hurry to construct meaning! There was no time for play with these gorgeous coloured rods!  Recently, we gave our children Numecon which are similar to cuisenaire rods.  We put them out on the table and for some weeks now we’ve allowed the children to play and experiment with them.


My past experiences have helped me reflect as a learner and as a teacher as to how we should truly construct meaning.  This is foundational to learning in all curriculum areas.  “In the same way that students describe themselves as “authors” or “artists”, a school’s programme should also provide students with the opportunity to see themselves as “mathematicians”, where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics”.Mathematics Scope and Sequence p.1.

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