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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Where did maths mastery come from? | Opinion - Schools Week

The roots of some ‘Asian’ teaching approaches lie closer to home than you might think, observes Mark Boylan, Professor at the Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University.

Photo: Schools Week

Read or hear the word “maths” in England right now, and you’re likely to see or hear the word “mastery”, too. Teaching for mastery is both the name of the government’s preferred teaching approach in maths and the name for the programme of funds and initiatives to encourage schools to adopt it. Publishers, consultants and websites with maths resources are all adopting the mastery brand.

Given this, a new teacher could be forgiven for thinking that talk of mastery has been around for a long time. However, a quick search in the Schools Week archive reveals that in 2015 there were only passing references, and generally they were not linked to maths.

Teachers who have been around for a little longer probably have some inkling that this talk of mastery has something to do with maths teaching in East Asia, and particularly Singapore and Shanghai.

But teachers in Singapore and Shanghai don’t tend to talk about mastery in maths. They don’t do teaching for mastery – they do teaching maths. So where did this idea of mastery and mathematics come from? Fortunately, the modern adoption of the term is well documented.

The idea of mastery learning goes back to the 1960s, when Benjamin Bloom had a novel idea: if learners don’t get something the first time, then teach them again and in different ways until they do. More recently, the Ark academy chain began to develop a maths curriculum influenced by Singapore.

They got funding from the Education Endowment Foundation for further development and for trials of the new approaches. In 2011 the term “mathematics mastery” was adopted.

Over the next few years, Mathematics Mastery developed as a curriculum and professional development programme that eventually separated from Ark to become an independent not-for-profit organisation. In 2014, Helen Drury, the founder of Mathematics Mastery, published a book explaining the approach...

Singapore’s maths teaching and curriculum was strongly influenced by the 1982 Cockroft Report – a report by an HMI in England. The idea of sequencing material as concrete-pictorial-abstract is a Singaporean version of Jerome Bruner’s ideas about learning.
Read more... 

Related link

How To Teach Mathematics for Mastery
How To Teach Mathematics for Mastery by Helen Drury, leading educator and founder of the school improvement programme, Mathematics Mastery.

Source: Schools Week