Cafe Sci:"Mathematic­s: from failure to functionality"

Diane Dalby

Nottingham University

Admitting that you are a mathematics teacher in an after-dinner conversation can almost guarantee a swift end to the conversation but confessing that you have never been able to do mathematics appears to be culturally acceptable. In the current climate where GCSE results attract close attention and poor results in international comparisons cause politicians to seek new solutions much energy is being channelled into developing the mathematical skills that lead towards A level and beyond. In this discussion we will explore what happens to those who fail to gain an acceptable grade at GCSE and reference will be made to some interesting results from my current research into the experience of vocational students in Further Education. As we shall see, there is hope that even the apparent failures can be transformed into mathematically functional adults but this is a complex journey with many contributory factors. Emotions and attitudes are entwined with cognitive functions and the relevance of mathematics to young lives is sometimes tenuous but there is evidence that these barriers can be overcome. Now I do have to admit that I was once a mathematics teacher (before becoming a college manager and now a research student) but I trust that this is only going to enrich this particular after-dinner discussion.

MEETING FORMAT: Our speaker talks, uninterrupted for 20 minutes, to introduce his topic. During a break to get drinks, the Hat goes round. Then there is an hour’s chaired question and answer session. Cafe Sci is funded by the Hat (no sponsors). We suggest a contribution £5 (waged) or £2 - £3 (unwaged). Full details here

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