Keeping Up-to-Date with Mathematics as a Teacher
Do you love mathematics, and would you say that as a teacher you are passionate for your subject? Many Maths Scholars not only want to become great teachers and experts in pedagogy, they also want to ‘keep up to date with mathematics’; this is a common aspiration which comes up time and time again during the Scholarship interview. This might be what you aspire to on day one of your teaching career, but on a practical level, how can a teacher actually ‘keep up to date with mathematics’ as their teaching career progresses?
Just to clarify, we are talking here about the ‘keeping up to date’ with mathematical research and applications of mathematics, we are not talking about staying at the cutting edge of pedagogy and research into mathematics teaching (although this, of course, will be another major interest to all Scholars).
Why would a teacher want to stay up to date with developments in mathematics, as most of the curriculum content which is taught in schools was first developed thousands of years ago?
Here are some reasons why mathematics teachers want to stay in touch with cutting edge mathematics:
- Nurture your own passion for mathematics.
- Inspire your pupils with exciting new discoveries – it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand the exact content.
- Introduce role models to your pupils when you learn about mathematicians from around the world.
- Many discoveries in applied mathematics lead to new technology which can be easily understood by your pupils.
- Maths is often in the news – help your pupils connect their learning to the wider world.
- Bring exciting mathematical careers into the classroom.
- Inspire your pupils with mathematics which is beyond the curriculum.
Think about the Art department at your school: do they take some time to paint their own pictures in the holidays and explore their own artistic interests? This would be seen as normal, and with this in mind, certainly maths teachers should feel comfortable about taking some time to read about mathematics, or actually do mathematics for their own interest.
With the many tasks of lesson planning; marking; parents evenings; and so on, it may however feel unrealistic that you are going to be able to ‘keep up to date with mathematics’, especially as a new teacher. The good news is that there are more and more essentially ‘bite-sized’ resources, which can bring the world of mathematics alive without endless hours of study.
As a Maths Scholar you gain fantastic free membership to the following Professional Bodies:
Amongst other things, as part of the membership of the IMA you will receive a hard copy of Mathematics Today magazine, which contains lots of articles on applications of mathematics. The IMA also run many conferences and talks, which will be accessible to interested teachers. Some of these talks run in the evening and only last one hour, which is perfect for a busy teacher.
If you do feel like you have more time, and an appetite for reading in depth mathematics, then you will also have access to the journals of these Professional Bodies, such as the IMA Journal of Applied Mathematics.
Websites to Read
There are now some great ‘maths magazine’ style websites which are written in an accessible way.
- The MathsCareers website – This contains many articles which discuss how mathematics is used in the real world.
- The IMA website – Many of the articles from Mathematics Today are now found here. There are also the Mathematics Matters Case studies, which were written to highlight cutting edge uses of mathematics which are making a big impact.
- Plus Magazine – A long standing online mathematics magazine suitable for Sixth Formers and beyond. Run by the Millennium Mathematics Project at the University of Cambridge.
- Chalkdust – An online maths magazine ‘for the mathematically curious’.
- The Conversation – Online magazine, which is sourced from academics and the research community and rewritten into an accessible format for the general public.
- MacTutor – History of Mathematics archive based at the University of St Andrews.
- Tom Rocks Maths – This YouTuber and Oxford University mathematician writes some interesting articles to read, in addition to the content on his YouTube Channel.
Read our other blogpost on all the great maths to be found on YouTube by clicking here.
Mr Barton’s Round up of all the Best Maths Websites and Blogs in the World
We could spend a long time listing out maths blogs, but Mr Barton has attempted this for us already! Click here to take a look.
Do some maths
Sharing mathematics with your pupils
If an art teacher paints their own pictures at the weekend, then inevitably they will share their developing skills with their pupils. In the same way a mathematics teacher who is ‘keeping up to date with mathematics’ will also bring that joy and knowledge into the classroom as they embark on a lifetime of development as a teacher and mathematician.
By Hazel Lewis