Hi there, UK teacher looking for US teachers' opinions on how Maths is taught in Elementary school. Recently I have heard the following claims about the way Maths is taught and received in the US Elementary schools: "Nothing [in maths teaching] has worked." "Most of the teachers are math phobic" "No matter what textbooks or worksheets or lesson plans the higher-ups devise for them, the teachers teach math by rote," "teachers pray that no smart-alec student asks them a question such as "Why do we do it that way?" or "What good is this?" "The students, of course, pick up on their teachers' fear, and they learn not to ask or even to think about such questions. They learn to be dumb." "a math-schooled mind is a chloroformed mind." I wondered if anyone here could confirm or refute these comments? Many thanks, Steve

I have lots of math teaching methods that work. I love teaching math. I don't use the textbooks my higher-ups give me. I don't use canned worksheets, except every once in a while for homework. I make my own materials. I love it when students ask why math is good or how it works, but they don't really need to ask what good math is, because I present it in real-life context.*** I am not scared of math. I know I'm not everyone, but I hope that refuted some of what you heard. I get really disheartened when I attend math trainings and professional developments and have the presenters talk as if all elementary teachers hate math and had some scarring incident in their elementary school math classes. I love it. ***DISCLAIMER: I teach elementary school, so everything can be taught in a real-life context. I will admit that I don't personally use trigonometry or calculus in my daily life, so I feel for high school teachers that teach subjects that don't have the innate urgency that basic math has.

As a new grad from college, I took 3 different courses on how to teach elementary school math. I absolutely loved these courses and they helped me to be able to teach concepts in a real world way. We also had to create all types of centers to help promote math efficiency. I feel my strong suit in the classroom is math and I absolutely love teaching it. As a student, I hated math so I think I like teaching it because I know how to make it clear and concise. I love it when a student asks me why we do it a certain way because I love showing them alternative ways, so they are able to master the skills in whichever they are able to best understand.

You are so lucky to be able to have the option of refusing to teach from textbooks higher-ups give you. I love teaching math, the second year of teaching was one of my most sucessful years because I created and used a lot of my own stuff. Later, we were told we had to use a spefic curriculum at a specific pace and now I spend more time trying to figure out how to follow the curriculum and less time creating customized lessons for my students. I know that there are a lot of teachers out there who are afraid of math. I've heard comments from teachers in several occassions about their fear of math. I've met many who struggle to pass the math portion of teaching tests, which is at no higher than 8th grade level. If we had stronger teachers in math maybe we could have stronger students in math.

Hi smurfette, thanks for that. Would you say yours is a common or rare practice in elementary schools?

Well, technically, I don't have that freedom this year, though I've had it up to now. I'm just kind of taking that freedom. Before, my district had a site-based management program, where the schools could chose their own textbooks, which I didn't use because they never seem to be aligned with our state curriculum. Now, they've adopted one math program district-wide. It has some merits, but most of it just stinks for our student population. I'm teaching according to the textbook's pacing guide, just not using the textbook. Next year, our team doesn't care what the district says, we're reordering the math units back into a logical progression. Luckily, we have a supportive principal.

I don't know because I've mostly worked with the same teachers until this year, and we didn't use the textbooks.