It is amazing how quickly education has changed over the time since I first stepped into a classroom! Back then, knowledge was king and the transmission of it to our students was the most important part of our job. Now though, as we all know, knowledge is a servant at the beck and call of our index finger. We just press 'search' on google, and we have a wide range of avenues in which to pursue the knowledge we need, when we need it and in a form we need it.
I have been doing lots of thinking around how we teach Maths at Bradbury School and have had some interesting discussions with staff around which is more important when our students are learning maths- knowledge or strategy?
To my mind, the latter is the most important- if we have secure strategies in place, we will be able to work out the answer, whereas, if we only know the answer without knowing the pathway that got us there, it is a closed exercise, with no transferable application. So what is a strategy? A strategy is the mental process students use to estimate answers and solve operational problems with numbers.
It is a bit like the decoding/comprehension aspects of reading. A child may be able to read a text way beyond what might normally be expected for their age group, but without comprehension, or understanding of what is read, is that really reading? I think not. It is just an exercise in deciphering symbols of meaning without the meaning!
I have found a Maths assessment that enables teachers to identify the strategy stage (linked to developmental stages) students are operating at across all three domains: addition & subtraction, subtraction & division and proportions & ratios. it can be used from Year 1 right through to Year 6, which is great as it will help teachers identify those students who are using advanced as well as age appropriate strategies and those who are not. Each teacher is going to trial it over the year, so it will be very interesting to see what is revealed!