Schools Council Bulletin 1966: Mathematics in Primary Schools
This bulletin, the second edition in the series published by the Schools Council, reports on the many changes that were happening generally in primary schools and specifically in mathematics teaching. The period under review follows the publication of the Mathematical Association’s 'The Teaching of Mathematics in Primary Schools'.
It contains a summary of intensive work in the learning of mathematics by discovery methods carried out with children and teachers from 1959 through to 1965. Contributors were drawn from those most experienced in new approaches in primary schools and in training colleges, some of whom had been experimenting with different methods of teaching mathematics for four or five years.
Research into the psychology of learning provided unchallengeable evidence that sound and lasting learning can be achieved only through active participation and concluded that:
• children learn mathematical concepts more slowly than had been realised, they learn by their own activities
• although children think and reason in different ways they all pass through certain stages depending on their chronological and mental ages and their experience
• learning can be accelerated by providing suitable experiences, particularly if the appropriate language is introduced simultaneously
• practise is necessary to fix a concept once it has been understood, therefore practise should follow, not precede, discovery.
A wealth of new materials both written and structural were appearing in schools, teachers were trying different teaching strategies and ways of organising classes and two 16mm films, Inside Maths and I Do and I Understand, showing primary school children learning mathematics, were produced for use at in-service courses and at Colleges of Education. By the spring of 1965 nearly 200 in-service courses had taken place, in which more than 16,000 teachers were involved, with the intention to:
• give teachers opportunities to discover mathematical relationships at their own and at children's level.
• give them insight into the structure of the number system and of the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
• show them the mathematical possibilities of the environment.
• provide them with some starting points in their own work with children.
The initial chapters aim not only at presenting the philosophy of the changes but at providing material help for teachers in their classrooms and particularly for the teachers with large classes in small classrooms.
Subsequent chapters are concerned with two main themes: children's learning of mathematics, and the problems facing teachers in the classroom.
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Resource by: HMSO