There's no such thing as a 'maths person'

A NOTE FROM OUR CO-FOUNDER, RICHARD WILSON

Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.

SHAKUNTALA DEVI, Mathematician

Learning to count as a child is just as exciting as learning the alphabet. There’s no discrimination between numbers and letters. Numbers are pretty exciting things to children.

They represent the age you are and how many fingers you need to hold up to show it. Or the size of your Lego collection. Or the amount of candles you get to blow out on your birthday cake.

Numbers are not intimidating. They’re meaningful and wonderous.

But somewhere along the line that changes. The joy of counting cars in the street or skipping numbers as they play hop-scotch is replaced with confusion. Suddenly, numbers are no longer about exploring with MAB blocks or drawings. Instead, they’re part of bigger equations, impossible algebra problems that are not as fun and not as easy to understand.

And that’s when they become hard — scary even. If we can’t multiply at the speed of a calculator, we assume that numbers probably aren’t for us. We mustn’t have been born with an in-built compass to navigate the complex world of mathematics. So many of us are so sure of this by age 6 that from there on we don’t even try.

Numbers are moved to the domain of a limited few. An elite group we don’t even want to be part of.

From primary school through to graduation, most students make do by memorising what they can. Never really understanding maths or seeing it for what it truly is. They enter adulthood claiming “I’m not a maths person” any time a bill needs to be split. It’s a level of discomfort that society is completely used to, so common place that we have grown accustomed and desensitised to a fully grown adult not being able to calculate the change due without the support of a register.

The truth is, everyone is a maths person. We can all understand, and even enjoy, maths if we’re given the time to explore it.

Maths Pathway exists because we want everyone to see this. We want to eliminate the point at which numbers become scary, so that every student has the opportunity to experience success in maths. Allowing them to become fully numerate and fully comfortable with numbers.

Maths is no different to learning your mother tongue. As a matter of fact, it is an universal language that crosses all borders, races and religions. It is the language of ideas, of exploration, of nature.

Now more than ever the world needs maths. There are problems to solve, technologies to develop, vulnerable communities to support, and advancements needed to move forward into the future.

That’s why the mission of the teachers, students, parents, schools and, partners who make up the Maths Pathway community is so important.

We don’t just want to change maths education for the next generation. We need to. And we don’t plan on stopping until we get there.

In 2020 Maths Pathway will be reaching further than ever before towards this goal. We’re working with ACARA on both the Curriculum Review and the Learning Progressions and Online Formative Assessment Initiative. That means that we’ll be working to help define the future of maths education in Australia.

It’s a sign of our collective experience and depth of understanding that we’ve been asked to do this. It’s an incredible opportunity that we won’t take lightly.

This report outlines the latest steps on our journey to achieve our mission. Take time to explore what we’ve learnt, how far we’ve come and how you can help us take the next steps.

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How does Maths Pathway work?

Maths Pathway combines evidence-based practices in a holistic model that supports teachers to deliver differentiated teaching and achieve greater student growth in the classroom.

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Impact Report 2020

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