Maths Scholar Anita Lala reflects

Anita Lala

During one of our training sessions we were discussing  fractions and the addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of them. The question raised was how would we teach the topic? 

The topic of fractions is difficult to introduce to the students. 

However, we did emphasise the power of different notations and different ways of saying the same thing. We also had a long discussion, especially for the division of fractions. Everyone accepted that the way we learnt the division was the teacher showing the rule for dividing fractions.


Fractions crop up everywhere

Students relate mathematics to memorising procedures and rules

This is in order for them to be successful learners. Sometimes, I find myself recalling moments from mathematics lessons where I was taught a rule and I probably never questioned why that rule was true. The mathematics lessons are perceived as lessons where you cannot have discussions, different answers and opinions and there is only right and wrong answers.  This is something that needs to change. 

I have observed that students strongly believe the rule’s power. 

Students make up rules regarding how to remember the rules. The most common question is: “What is the rule for this?”  The focus of the lesson might be investigation of a topic, but students do not consider that as ‘learning’. They expect at the end of the lesson to learn a rule or procedure that would enable them to work on a certain topic.  I am overwhelmed by the amount of effort and energy that students put into finding such rules. The only thought in my head is how to channel their effort and energy towards mathematics’ understanding and learning. 

When I first started the course, I believed that the mathematics knowledge was the most important factor of being a good mathematics teacher.  Now, every day I face the question: “How?”  

  • How am I going to introduce this topic in order to develop students’ understanding?
  • How am I going to engage them and challenge them to their full potential?
  • How am I going to know if the teaching is resulting in learning?
  • How am I going to motivate the students?

The students get demotivated and disinterested on the subject and they will enhance the belief that mathematics is very difficult. The focus for me as a future teacher is to change this perception. I am aware that not everyone will be a successful learner in mathematics, but everyone could be engaged, motivated and challenged.

If you would like to challenge your own thinking alongside students and really explore mathematics then being a Maths Scholar is just right for you. Apply now and change your world, your career and future careers of the students you teach. Do it now!