THE EDITOR, Sir:
In the aftermath of the GSAT results, the education ministry says that the passes in mathematics have declined by 3.7 per cent. As such, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites says that more needs to be done with respect to the teaching and learning of mathematics.
The 2014 CXC mathematics results indicated that only 56 per cent of all those who sat the subject where able to pass, which, in any case, would mean that 44 per cent failed. The education ministry has been vigorously employing various initiatives to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics. Some of the initiatives include math counts, mathematics fairs and the deploying of 84 mathematics specialists to help lift the teaching standard of the subject. I commend the minister for his efforts and I implore him to continue.
All Stakeholders Needed
As we seek for solutions vis-a-vis the teaching and learning of mathematics, Dr Rattray, director of education programmes at the Jamaica National Foundation, is calling on all stakeholders to be part of team Jamaica and to evoke a math revolution. The Gleaner editorial of Friday, June 19, 2015, titled ‘Solving the maths problem’, provided two solutions. It stated that “The first is for the Government to work with its foreign partners to recruit from abroad, on short term, and if required, rotating basis, retired math/science specialist to teach in Jamaican schools while we train our own. Further, as part of the current public-sector salary wage negotiations, math and other teachers, their principal and schools, should be offered performance-based incentives that kick-in with improved test scores in the applicable subject.”
However, I have a suggestion that mathematics teachers should employ within the classroom to effectively teach mathematical concepts. As a student-teacher, the teaching of the correct concepts in innovative ways cannot be overemphasised. When I was on teaching practice in second year, I was teaching algebra to grade seven students, and they were not grasping the concepts. So I went back to the drawing board and created a lesson by breaking down the concept in a way that students were able to relate to. I used dancehall music to teach the lesson and it was well received. Students grasped the concept.
Therefore, I am imploring my colleagues to use aspects of our Jamaican culture to teach mathematics, specifically music. Students coexist within the confines of our culture; it is within this construct and framework that they communicate and socialise. Bring things to them that they can relate to.
I remember bringing music to the classroom, and that I attracted other students to my class. Studies have shown the impact music can have on individuals, so let us use it to our advantage. Let us conduct research to influence change. Let us not distance ourselves from that which is ours, use it to influence our pedagogical skills.
You can create your own songs, using your creativity. It can be used as an introduction or culminating activity. As we seek solutions to improve the teaching and learning of mathematics, this is just one them. I hope it falleth not on deaf ears.