Teachers Participate in Two-Day Math Symposium


A two-day regional symposium to expose early childhood and primary school teachers to new methods of teaching mathematics, got underway yesterday (May 24) at the Medallion Hall hotel in Kingston.
The symposium, which is organized by the Science and Mathematics Education Centre on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies, was held under the theme: ‘Making Mathematics Work: Building Solid Foundations in the Early Years’.
Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry Wilson, in her remarks at the opening ceremony, pointed out that many students in Jamaica have a serious difficulty in understanding mathematics, which is reflected in their performance in the Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and Grade Six Achievement Test (G-SAT) examinations.
“Our latest results show that only 35.7 per cent of students in Jamaica were able to attain between grades 1 and 3 in CSEC examinations. These are figures of which we are not proud but what is more is that it is at the primary level that it starts rearing its head,” she stated, noting that the 2006 G-SAT results have shown that the national average for mathematics was 53 per cent.
The Education Minister noted that to correct this problem, both teachers and parents should help the child in the early years to develop an appreciation for the subject, as a child’s early experiences with mathematics will significantly affect their attitude towards the subject in the future.
“Research has shown that it is actually in the early years of a child’s development that he or she develops an appreciation for specific skills and capacities. If the first encounters with math are a fun part of everyday experiences, this will lead to positive disposition towards it,” the Education Minister pointed out.
She further called on the teachers to develop methods to engage their students in the subject, so that math becomes a fun and exciting subject. “The right facilitators are also critical . our facilitators must be able to engage the children in fun and exciting ways as they impart new concepts. We must be mindful of each child’s ability, not every child can be a math genius but every child can learn mathematical applications,” she stated.
“A teacher must be comfortable with mathematics if they are to teach mathematics, they must possess the competencies, they must be able to adapt and apply a variety of methodologies to stimulate and promote interests in mathematics,” the Education Minister added.
Some 125 early childhood and primary school teachers from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands are participating in the symposium.

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