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Inspiring Scottish teachers to change how we teach maths

As part of our Mindset in Education work, world-renowned Stanford University Professor of Mathematics Education, Dr Jo Boaler, is visiting Scotland this September to inspire Scottish education to change the way maths is taught. 

Children are often labelled at an early age as belonging one of two categories: those with a ‘maths brain’ or those without – something that will follow them into adulthood. Scientific research has confirmed there is no such thing as a ‘maths brain’ and Dr Boaler’s work promotes the understanding that everyone is born with an innate ability to do maths – and that whether or not we ‘do well’ in maths comes from our own experiences and beliefs. 

For Boaler, the traditional way of teaching mathematics at school is an out-of-date approach. Instead, her methods include presenting mathematical problems in a visual form, with children engaging and working together in a team to solve a problem. The results from this approach have been astounding, with 50 per cent improvement in test scores in the US. Boaler demonstrates that mathematics is an open, creative and multi-dimensional subject. One in three schools in the US follow her approach and she is now coming to Scotland to inspire teachers to review the way maths is taught and work towards improving our country’s maths education. 

Following this year’s National 5s and Higher Maths exam results, the Scottish Qualifications Authority has raised concerns over basic numeracy levels, and in addition, the recent ‘Making Maths Count’ report from the Scottish Government highlighted that maths education had to be a ‘national priority’ for schools in Scotland.  The report also indicated that too many of us were happy to label ourselves as “no good with numbers” and that deep-rooted attitude is holding Scotland back educationally and economically.  

Dr Boaler will lead the ‘Teaching Mindset Mathematics’ conference on Tuesday 18th September at Murrayfield Stadium, to introduce teachers in Scotland to her methods for improving children’s beliefs in their ability and their engagement in numeracy, as well as offering some proven approaches for teaching maths including ‘number talks’ and ‘think boards’. On Wednesday 19th September, Dr Boaler will deliver a keynote address to hundreds of educators at Education Scotland’s Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow. 

We will keep you updated with more information about our Mindset Mathematics work in the future.