Today the Egyptian Science Teachers who we have worked with for twelve weeks finished their course and received their completion certificates … a happy and sad moment. They have engaged in activities outside their comfort zone and have visited places in the UK that they have dreamed about. It has been an exciting, stressful, funny, frustrating and learning time for all of us.
I am now getting towards the end of my lifelong involvement with teaching and learning and have watched the wheel turn over and over. I have watched dedicated teachers sink under a mess of targets and tests and have witnessed the destruction of freedoms of learning and creativity at the altar of PISA. I have watched so called maths and English take over the curriculum of the youngest and have seen the resolve of dedicated people slowly and remorselessly eroded until they ‘do it because they have to’. Few have managed to swim against the tide of assessment’s needs.
And today I read that it is to continue in this new parliament … http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-33283498
To see what could be done with a different viewpoint just bathe in the clarity that design and thought could bring to young children’s lives … where would you like your child to be educated?
After a longish wait we are now expecting our third cohort of Egyptian teachers – a group of science specialists – to join us at the University of Leicester on Thursday. They fly in from Cairo on Wednesday and we will begin our orientation sessions with them at 9:30 on Thursday morning.
I have been brushing up on my Arabic so that I can welcome them
Getting towards the final stages of the course now and things are developing nicely. There is a lot of understanding about the need to vary teaching strategies and that technology could and should help with this.
The group has thoroughly engaged in the course content and some really creative ideas have come forward and have been shared.
There is a tendency to revert back to the present Egyptian Maths curriculum as a prop to non- engagement at some stages. It is too easy to accept that things cannot be done and we have tried to adopt the principle of ‘If not you then who? If not now then when?’
The teachers are now halfway through their course here at Leicester and are working hard on a great number of areas. School visits have been an eye-opener for them and they have been immersed in a whole range of styles, ages and techniques.
Their level of English both in writing and speech is increasing as is the understanding of the nuances of the language.
My Arabic still only extends to about 3 words and I am ashamed that I can’t remember more. It is all about usage.
Week 1 was really about getting used to walking to the teaching venue at Brookfield, being given and getting used to the iPads but most of all visiting BETT 2015 at ExCeL.
gives the highlights as seen by the press and UK teachers. It is now up to the Egyptian teachers to make sense of all of the things that they saw and put the ideas in place within their curriculum. The problem is being dazzled by the vast array of things available that will probably have little or no impact in Egyptian schools. What was good, what was useful and why are the key questions to be answered.
Today has been quite a stressful one in that our assumptions about how difficult the task of blogging was were wrong. We must understand that the things we have been doing for a long while look really strange when they are new and the directions are not in a first language.
Message to self : must try harder
Message to group: when you can do something quickly please go and help someone who can’t
The second group of Egyptian teachers have arrived at the University of Leicester. This group are all teachers of maths and their arrival has provoked me to revisit this blog to muse over ideas that have moved on since the last post.
It has got me thinking about how innovation looks from a different direction and has alerted me to the layered nature of teaching. High ideals beyond pedagogy are the order of the day but feet musty be kept firmly on the ground to provide useful and usable opportunities for growth.
I will use this blog to post the progression of thought for the next 10 weeks as the course for these Egyptian teachers develops.
Notes to self:
- Speak more slowly
- Give things more time
- Allow white space to develop
- Listen to the shouts and the whispers
Is it true that bits of the DfE do not talk to each other? How is it that one end of curriculum assessment is suggesting that maths needs to be made more relevant and appropriate to a digital age and another, at primary level, is saying that children should learn their ‘tables’ up to 12*12 and … This means learning times tables up to 12×12 and being able to carry out long multiplication and division without the aid of a calculator… says Education Minister Elizabeth Truss.
- adding and subtracting fractions with different denominations and mixed numbers
- calculating the area of a parallelogram and a triangle, and the volume of a cuboid
- using their knowledge of the order of operations to carry out calculations involving the four operations (division, multiplication, subtraction and addition)
Tests under the current curriculum do not ask as much of pupils. For instance, they only have to know their 10×10 times tables and they only need to know how to calculate the area of squares and rectangles.
A new separate written arithmetic paper has been introduced to key stage 2 tests to ensure pupils are fluent in the discipline.
The government is also banning the use of calculators in tests for 11-year-olds from this year for the first time.
Also marks will only be given to pupils who get the wrong answer if they show their working has been done in efficient methods, including long and short division and multiplication instead of so-called ‘chunking’ or ‘grid methods’. Pupils who get the right answer will still get full marks, whatever method they have used.
As a thought:
Q: When did I last use my ability to add and subtract fractions with different denominations and mixed numbers?
A: When I took my GCE Maths – 55 years ago
Q: Why do people need to know the multiplication facts to 12*12 … have we gone all American and still wish to use feet and inches and is our currency going back to £.s.d?
A: No idea and No and No
Q: When did I need to know (-*- =+)
A: Actually never … except in an exam
Q: When do children, in general, at the age of 11, need to know how to calculate the volume of a cuboid?
A: Never … if they did want to know – http://www.mathsisfun.com/cuboid.html
Q: Why are people so anti-calculator ?
A: No idea … what is the big deal about being able to do sums without one and do long multiplication by a non efficient method ( using a bit of paper etc) when a Google search will give the answer to 576*345 straight away? (198720)
Q: Is there an understanding about the difference between arithmetic and maths?
A: I think not
I could go on but the issue is clear that the things that we teach our young people should be relevant to their developing lives and not just so that the institutional education system can say that it is better than others in the world.