Basic maths? No such thing

August 6, 2009

Hooray! At long last we've heard the real truth about mathematics ("Artists may hold the formula for a renaissance in maths", 23 July).

I have been teaching primary school mathematics for the past seven years to future teachers here in Australia. When I was first given the role, I felt it was a demotion: "Me, teaching this basic stuff? It is just like playing with counters and blocks." But after seven years, I am still amazed by just how profound "the basics" are, that mathematics is hardwired into all of us.

Many of the young adults I teach have been conditioned into thinking that mathematics is only for a few weird people. Basically, they have "maths anxiety". My approach is to emphasise that mathematics is primarily an art. I am constantly saying to my students: "Mathematics has no need of technology, but technology has every need for mathematics."

Alan Mainwaring, Deakin University, Australia.

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