Tony Gardiner: Teaching mathematics at secondary level

A. D. Gardiner, Teaching mathematics at secondary level. The De Morgan Gazette 6 no. 1 (2014), 1-215.

From the Introduction:

This extended essay started out as a modest attempt to offer some supporting structure for teachers struggling to implement a rather unhelpful National Curriculum.  It then grew into a Mathematical manifesto that offers a broad view of secondary mathematics, which should interest both seasoned practitioners and those at the start of their teaching careers.  This is not a DIY manual on How to teach.  Instead we use the official requirements of the new National Curriculum in England as an opportunity:

  • to clarify certain crucial features of elementary mathematics and how it is learned — features which all teachers need to consider before deciding `How to teach’.

In other words, teachers will find here a survey of some of the mathematical background which schools need to bear in mind when choosing their approach, when thinking about long-term objectives, and when reflecting on (and trying to understand and improve) observed outcomes.

We leave others to draft recipes for translating the official curriculum into a scheme of work with the minimum of thought or reflection.  This study is aimed at anyone who would like to think more deeply about the discipline of “elementary mathematics”, so that whatever decisions they may take will be more soundly based.  Feedback on earlier versions suggested that this analysis of secondary mathematics and its central principles should provide food for thought for anyone involved in school mathematics, whether as an aspiring teacher, or as an experienced professional — challenging us all to reflect upon what it is that makes secondary school mathematics educationally, culturally, and socially important.


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