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Maths is cropping up regularly in the media and that has to be a good thing. The Maths Scholars Scholarship scheme is actually delighted as we are quite obsessed by the subject and we’re not afraid to admit it. We even spend the holiday period searching for exciting people to interview. Our aim is to keep the Maths Scholars name name uppermost in people’s minds and also encourage people to consider applying to train to be a Maths teacher in 2018.

The interesting thing is that everyone in this country has been educated. Everyone has memories and thoughts regarding the way they were taught maths. Yes, that can be very useful to look back and consider what worked and what didn’t. Yet there is much more to consider as the world has never changed so profoundly and so quickly as it has done in the last decade.

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

When government makes sweeping changes they often hope that a new policy will transform one aspect of education but top down didactic change rarely works. Let’s take tech for example. Governments could invest in tech for schools but how can that alone help the understanding of maths? Over the past twenty years many maths teachers have been excited about the possibilities of tech but probably three quarters of Maths teachers are still unimpressed. Why is this?

At it’s very worst tech can be seen to be just another thing that needs to be fitted in. After all, teachers have many restraint regarding accountability, exam constraints etc. Also tech is not valid for its own sake. Maths has to be part of the tech experience and teach has to be a seminal part of the mathematical experience. It’s symbiotic and not an adjunct.

In a discussion with Alison Clarke, researcher at UCL she told us that professional development and teacher support were essential to unlock ubiquitous tech. “It’s about new teachers, trainees and experienced teachers revisiting their own maths knowledge and approaches and considering how they might use tech to enable their students,” she said.

“After all, we operate in a very different environment where knowledge for knowledge sake is no longer an asset.” Learning all the capitals of the world is a pointless exercise when you have access to that kind of knowledge at a swipe of a finger or a voice command. Copying acres of notes or diagrams from textbook to exercise book is also a relic. What we need now are risk takers who want to work on problems and discover more than one solution. We need people who are not content with the first solution but are always searching for better alternatives, improvements, developments and beyond.

We need explorers who are not afraid to get their hands dirty. That means the teachers will probably act more as guides and questioners. The days of the didactic teacher centred approaches are now anachronistic. After all teach can be a gateway to new world or simply functional. We are rebuilding and augmenting human knowledge. We need to build contingent knowledge. We need to know in the moment.

That means the next cohort of trainee teachers need to understand just what responsibility they will have in helping to develop and build human knowledge. New teachers should be flexible instead of fixed. The maths text book is no longer the font of all knowledge but interestingly maths teachers have been the least likely to use tech in their classrooms and we don’t mean whiteboards. What we need are teachers who are happy to embed tech. Could that be you?

Consider applying for the Maths Scholars scheme. Check it out even if you think you’d never receive a scholarship. Certainly an application can help boost confidence and also underscore just why teaching maths might be the career for you. If you really are looking to improve and develop your self-belief then working out why you might want to teach maths is a useful task. The application is just the start but is a foundational step towards a complete transformation of your world picture and also the many, many students you will come into contact with throughout your career. You will be amazed to see the wide range of students who are awarded a scholarship and they are not all related to Einstein or Babbage. We are looking for passionate communicators with a passion for Maths. Does that sound like you?

If you would like to apply to become a Maths Scholar in 2018 then you can check out all the details on our website including FAQs.