Monday, January 6, 2014

The Student and the Transition to Senior Maths

Saarbr├╝cken, HTW, Mathematics Workshop
Mathematics Workshop (Photo credit: flgr)
by Richard D Boyce

Every year, students will come to you as their Maths teacher in year 10 seeking advice on what level of Mathematics to select for their senior years at high school.

It is a crucial decision because it can impact on the choice of courses the student will have available to them if they seek to go to a tertiary institution.

Obviously, their talent for the subject is a consideration.

However, many students in their junior years develop a dislike of Mathematics which leads to a lack of motivation in the subject. Many can't see its relevance to their future lives.

All is not lost for the future if a student selects not to do a Mathematics subject in the senior school or chooses a lesser version of the subject.

Most tertiary institutions offer catch-up opportunities to those who find they want or need to revive their education in Mathematics to proceed with the tertiary course of their choosing.

Initially, I would discuss with the individual student their past success, their strengths and weaknesses in the subject and what they need to do to remedy any deficiencies.

We would also discuss their future career goals to see what level of Maths was appropriate for that career. Then I would make my suggestion.

Once I have given my advice to the student on which Maths subject to select, I would attempt to give them an understanding of what doing senior Mathematics entails.

This is what I would say to individual students and to students as a whole in my role as Head of Mathematics.

It is your decision to remain at school and to choose the subject/s you want to study. Therefore you must accept ownership of your decision and the responsibility for your success or failure.

Year 11 brings to you:

- A greater degree of freedom to choose when and what to do;
- A greater expectation by teachers that you will accept the responsibility for your study/learning; and
- A chance to become an adult learner.

Year 11 also brings:

- Distractions that are in the form of paid work and a social life outside school;
- A steep rise in the level of understanding required to succeed in your study; and
- The need for constant hard work (talent is not enough to guarantee your success. You will need to work harder and longer than you did in your earlier school years).

Year 11 can bring success to the student through:

- Learning to work 'smart';
- Organising your time;
- Setting priorities, goals (both short and long term);
- Communicating and working with your teachers; and
- Finding and using a mentor and being one for your fellow students.

Remember these two ideas:

- You decide to succeed or fail.
- Your teacher can not do it for you. They are now only guides along the way.

Here are a few home truths I would like to leave you with:

• What we have to learn, we learn by doing.
• Time is like money. You can only spend it once.
• Your purpose in life should be to do what you can as well as you can.
• It is good to take an interest in the future. That's where YOU will spend the rest of your life.

Finally, whatever Maths subject they choose to do, they alone decide by their work ethic how successful they can be.

Our author, Richard Boyce, has taught High School Mathematics for over 45 years. He was a Head of Mathematics for 16 years. Therefore, he is aware of the needs of students entering Mathematics in Senior High School.

This article is based on his professional experience advising students in his high school when they were about to decide what subjects they would study prior to tertiary admission.

Our author has written many eBooks designed to help teachers in their professional life. The articles on this website give the teacher an informed idea of the content of these eBooks. You can find these eBooks at http://www.realteachingsolutions.com

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