Mathematical values: What?

Mathematic Education Group Research Seminar

Quite rightly we are concerned about the mathematical learning of our students. But that does not mean our students should never enjoy this experience. On the contrary, they should experience the excitement of discovery, enjoy the profound mystery that is sometimes part of maths, the insight maths brings to the world around them, and the sheer pleasure of doing something hard over an extended period of time and succeeding. Students spend a lot of time doing mathematics in their school lives. Sad if they end up thinking of school mathematics as ‘it was a waste of time’, ‘really frustrating’, or ‘never did see why we did that’. Understanding mathematics is not constrained to learning the various techniques of manipulating number, variables, spatial notions and the like. It should include the deeper notions that make mathematics hang together and become a coherent whole. That includes notions of rationality and consistency. This deeper learning involves accessing mathematical values, and seeing them for what they are.