For Grade 12 Mathematics learners to confidently attempt more difficult questions, teachers need to challenge their students. This starts with developing confidence in educators, revealed Anne Eadie, Co-Founder of The Answer Series and Mathematics author, with 45 years’ worth of experience under her belt.
To help build teacher confidence, and thereby inspire better performance amongst learners, The Answer Series recently hosted two virtual workshops centred on effectively teaching Level 3 and 4 Matric Maths questions to teachers around the country. Eadie was joined by Susan Carletti, Head of Advanced Programme Mathematics at Rondebosch Boys’ High School, and Jenny Campbell, Head of Mathematics at Bishops Diocesan College. The sessions formed part of The Answer Series’ goal of supporting South African teachers, for whom 2020 has been a particularly challenging year with remote learning, increased substitutions and a need for greater tech-savvy being just a few of this years’ hurdles.
According to Eadie, knowledge is extremely important for building teacher confidence: “For teachers to impactfully educate their students and inspire interest in Mathematics, they need to have knowledge of Mathematical language, theory, concepts and contexts, and be able to apply this with ease. Only then can they successfully transfer these concepts to learners and help them to develop recognition for mathematical logic and ultimately self-directed learning. However, this all begins with confidence.”
This is supported by the latest research conducted by the Department of Education, which found that fewer students opted to write mathematics in 2019 compared to learners between 2014 and 2018.[i] At the same time, academic performance amongst learners who did write Mathematics decreased significantly, with 54,6% of candidates achieving 30% and above in 2019, and a mere 35% of learners achieving 40% or above.[ii]
Explains Eadie: “The reason for this poor performance is that students do not fully comprehend key areas such as functions and graphs, calculus, probability, geometry and trigonometry. Learners do not understand the logic behind these Mathematical concepts, which is compounded by an over-reliance on past examination papers for revision. Hence, we see students struggling with complex procedures and problem solving, which together form 45% of the exam.”
At the workshops, which were conducted in both English and Afrikaans, The Answer Series also announced the launch of Maths Majors, a new community forum for Maths teachers to share knowledge, grow confidence and work together to overcome common challenges in the classroom. In addition, the organisation is also providing free e-books for teachers as well as video lessons for Grade 12s as part of its mission to further education in South Africa.
George Eadie, CEO of The Answer Series, concludes: “By helping teachers, we jointly raise the standard of education in South Africa. Key to this is imparting confidence in teachers, which we aim to do by providing learning resources and materials for both staff and students, so that they can overcome their fears and become masters in their subject.”