Why study mathematics?
Maths is useful as it helps us to deal with everyday situations which may require some form of problem solving from planning our day, calculating a budget or decorating a bedroom. Being proficient in mathematics is a pre-requisite to many jobs. One of my earliest work experiences as a Conference and Banqueting Porter in a large Hotel made me realise just how much I relied upon mathematics to get the job done efficiently and effectively. Time management, spacial awerness, budgeting, problem solving etc.. Maths is essential for science, engineering and more broadly research. It is unusual not to conduct some form of statistical based research as part of a dissertation at university.
Maths is important. Mathematically informed citizens make better economic and political decisions about risk, policy and allocation of resources. Being able to critically analyse what has been written or reported helps people to make better informed decisions. In order to present the argument that maths is useful, I might refer to a strong correlation between earnings and educational attainment in mathematics. A study of the 1999 US census data showed that less than 2% of persons employed in high earning jobs, can be said to require insignificant mathematical training. Do we trust this statement? Is this data comparable to Jersey? Is it still relevant? How might we use this information to help us make informed decision or direct future curriculum or policy changes?
The British philosopher Bertrand Russell quoted that ‘Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but also supreme beauty’. Using mathematics teaches us patterns to solving problems and insights that can be transferred to other knowledge domains. Mathematical proof teaches skills in rigour, argumentation and persuasion which can be transferred to other specific or specialised disciplines. In short mathematics is a cross-disciplinary subject. So if I have kept your interest or perhaps persuaded you about the significance of studying mathematics then the next question might be.
What does studying mathematics look like at Hautlieu?
I am fortunate to work with a group of maths teachers that really care about their students and work hard to help each student to achieve their potential. Maths staff are always keen to share ideas and resources and look to the latest developments from mathematical practitioners to supplement their many combined years of teaching. Support is always forthcoming and students can join support classes or attend support sessions arranged by staff. Feedback comes in a variety forms from comments during lessons or on assessed pieces of work, individual unit plans on Teams to online feedback via the DrFrostmaths platform. All classrooms are kitted out with interactive TV’s and you will see software being used such as Geogebra, Desmos and other mathematical tools and websites that complement the teachers’ lessons. Visualisers are also integrated into our teaching which help students see how we model questions or demonstrate techniques such as bisecting an angle or simply to share students work and ideas. Emulators are an integral part of our lessons (basically large calculators on screen) to assist with students studies whether this is using a Casio Classwiz with Level 3 maths (or A level) through to the Ti–Nspire Graphical Display Calculator which is used predominantly throughout the IB maths courses.
Extra-curricular opportunities exist in competitions such as the UKMT, Southampton Cipher and Ritangle Competition. We have excellent links with the other 6th form colleges and regularly have students attending combined workshops, conferences and STEP/MAT classes. Off-island visits have included NASA and Oxford University and we are always on the lookout for arranging other educationally beneficial trips.
Your journey might start in year 10 studying GCSE mathematics which is a general certificate of secondary education. This in turn paves the way for Level 2 further mathematics for those students in year 11 that enjoy the rigour and challenge of higher level GCSE. For those students joining us in year 12 you have a variety of options such as; Level 3 Maths Studies (core maths) which is designed to complement subject disciplines such as geography, finance and psychology; A level Mathematics which progresses students through pure and applied mathematics including mechanics and statistics; A level Further Mathematics which is a step up on the A level math syllabus more content and more detail; IB mathematics which has Analysis and Approaches Standard/Higher Level or Application and Interpretations at Standard Level. The IB courses make use of technology to solve mathematical problems. You will see IB students using the Ti–Nspire graphic display calculator during their lessons.
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