How Have You Linked Maths To The Real World?
As a career changer, my real-world links have always had a finance slant. When talking about graphs, for example, I would talk about a company share price changing and how we could use the equation of a line to (hopefully) predict the future price.
With ratios, it’s common to reference recipes. Although this link is relevant and important, when I learnt maths it wasn’t an idea that captured my imagination.
Instead, I feel that we need to see things from the perspective of students and their interests and experiences. In my ratios lesson, I introduced business and financial metrics to explain corporate strategy.
The numbers mean something when they help us to answer a question.
We also discussed personal finance (a recent PSHE topic) and the suggested 50:30:20 Needs:Wants:Save ratio.
Something more relevant to the students was gaming and sports and how ratios show up (games to wins) and how they need to be considered with the bigger picture, for example total games played or number of minutes played.
Fast forward to this term, in my errors and bounds lesson, I was asked the question, “But sir why do we need to do this?”.
As I thought of an example the student answered their own question with “Well it’ll be on the exam so I need to learn it.”
My response was immediate. “I’m not teaching you for an exam, I’m teaching you mathematical skills for life. I will answer your question next lesson.”
Errors and bounds is a sliver of a topic, hanging on to the end of Circle Theorems in the textbook. So, that evening I put on the kettle, found my thinking cap, and recalled my experience working in the city. The core question was “why is accuracy important?”
I created a simplified income statement from finance and demonstrated to them that just a 1% level of accuracy in reporting incomings and outgoings of a business could lead to a best-case scenario of tripling profits or worse-case scenario of making a significant loss.
Their eyebrows were raised, the silence was eerie, maths was made real.
By Varun Gill
You can find Varun on LinkedIn here.
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