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Effective pedagogical strategies for teaching mathematics in early childhood

Contribution of plato to modern mathematics

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As a secondary subject, society often views mathematics a critical subject for students to learn in order to be successful. Often times, mathematics serves as a gatekeeper for higher learning and certain specific careers. Since the times of Plato, “mathematics was virtually the first thing everyone has to learn…common to all arts, science, and forms of thought” (Stinson, 2004). Plato argued that all students should learn arithmetic; the advanced mathematics was reserved for those that would serve as the “philosopher guardians” of the city (Stinson, 2004). By the 1900s in the United States, mathematics found itself as a cornerstone of curriculum for students. National reports throughout the 20th Century solidified the importance of mathematics in the success of our nation and its students (Stinson, 2004). As a mathematics teacher, my role to educate all students in mathematics is an important one. My personal philosophy of mathematics education – including the optimal learning environment and best practices teaching strategies – motivates my teaching strategies in my personal classroom. Mathematics teachers teach their students a wide range of content strands – geometry, algebra, statistics, and trigonometry – while also teaching their students mathematical skills – logical thinking, formal process, numerical reasoning, and problem solving. In teaching my students, I need to aspire to Skemp’s (1976) description of a “relational understanding” of mathematics (p. 4). Skemp describes two types of understanding: relational understanding and instrumental understanding. In an instrumental understanding, students know how to follow steps and sequential procedures without a true understanding of the mathematical reasons for the processe... ... middle of paper ... ...S. and Stepelman, J. (2010). Teaching Secondary Mathematics: Techniques and Enrichment Units. 8th Ed. Merrill Prentice Hall. Upper Saddle River, NJ. Skemp, R. R. (1976). Relational understanding and instrumental understanding. Mathematics Teaching, 77, 20-26. Retreived from: http://math.coe.uga.edu/olive/EMAT3500f08/instrumental-relational.pdf Stinson, D. W. (2004). Mathematics as “gate-keeper” (?): Three theoretical perspectives that aim toward empowering all children with a key to the gate. The Mathematics Educator, 14(1), 8-18. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ848490.pdf Towers, J., Martin, L., & Pirie, S. (2000). Growing mathematical understanding: Layered observations. In M.L. Fernandez (Ed.), Proceedings of the Annual Meetings of North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education, Tucson, AZ, 225-230.

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