English teaching, News, Rants

Wells, Wheels and a cowboy of a Maths teacher. Easy as Pi.

I was never good in Maths class during my time at secondary school. I was supposed to be I guess, as I passed through to a “Grammar School” having sat the dreaded “11 Plus” exam which plagued us older folk in England and Wales.

All ” Grammar School”  meant to me was travelling for a hour on the bus to a school for supposedly the “cleverer” children often carrying a gym bag, cookery equipment and a trombone, and I got to wear a blue school uniform instead of the bottle green of the nearer secondary schools ten minutes away. I don’t like green clothing.

I had a problem with the Maths teacher, I am not sure why, he tried very hard to use humour and jolly banter keep his lessons alive.

However all his humour was based on Cowboy references, ” Meanwhile back on the ranch” was his catch phrase.  He used this in such a way,

“Here is Pi, and this is its number 3.14”

“Meanwhile back on the ranch, these are the ways you can use it”

What followed was a lot of very zealous chalk marks on the blackboard, and then instructing us to do the Maths in our exercise books.

What he didn’t do,  was bring maths alive for me.

“Where did Pi come from and why” I asked my Dad at home.

The following video was not available 40 years ago, I expect Dad wishes it had been.
History of Pi view this in You tube.

If the teacher had just explained a little of what Pi could have meant to wheel makers and for example well engineers constructing walls around wells. I may have found the history of Pi and its usefulness come alive, Maths is a living thing, and this should be explained to children.

My son stumbled across the Fibonacci Sequence when he was four years old. I didn’t recognise what it was and its place in history of maths or nature. I was just very pleased he had come across the pattern at such an early age.

My dad enlightened me when I reported it in the weekend family phone chat.

I taught a child for many years who due to a brain injury had a great deal of trouble with her “Abstract Logic” numbers, counting, spaces, geography and time were very difficult to comprehend. However a poem learnt  by heart, achieved after two recitations. A really interesting and challenging brain that child had.

I think the following video would have helped her greatly in calculations of multiplication. The use of multiplication was demonstrated to her by planning the catering for a birthday party.

And really how this gentleman speaks about Quantum Physics, gives me confidence that anything can become interesting and explainable, we just have to find something with which people can relate when starting the explanations.

I like teaching………