Form and Formula

  • Fiona Walls


This chapter looks at the ways in which mathematics was taught in the secondary school classroom. As in primary school, the children were mostly expected to work alone completing written tasks. Discussion of mathematical ideas between students was not built into the tasks. The typical lesson consisted of the teacher explaining a new concept or technique - described as rules and formulas by the children, which they copied into their mathematics exercise books - followed by the students completing exercises from their textbooks replicating and applying what they had just been shown, while the teacher attempted to assist those who were experiencing difficulties. These exercises were often expected to be completed for homework. Mathematics lessons were reported by the children to have sameness about them that they did not find in other school subjects. This formulaic approach created boredom for many of the children, and they began to question the use of the mathematical content they were expected to learn. On the whole their teachers were unable to convince the children of the purpose in such learning. Only one child was able to report that his teacher had made connections between the learning of mathematical rules and occupations where such knowlWedge is important, such as architecture. The children were made as studious subjects whose job was to memorise and replicate mathematical knowledge.


Mathematics Teacher Mathematical Knowledge Mathematics Classroom National Curriculum Mathematics Lesson 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.James Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia

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