Lifelong Learning Programme

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Title of the Experience
Getting to know each other better…
Name of the teacher
Veronica Del Bene
Country where it took place
School typology
Vocational School
Thematic Area
Experience typology
Teaching in class
Type of contact
Description of the Experience
In an attempt to inquire into the well-known problem of student difficulties in learning maths and in monitoring the potential emotional distress that often accompanies this, it has become my habit, on the first day of school, to get to know new students by administering a questionnaire, in which I ask them to recount emotions, impressions and past experiences in relation to maths and to learning maths. In the questionnaire I also ask the students to suggest topics that they would like to deal with and learn, and above all the ways in which they would like the topics to be taught. The questionnaire concludes with the question - “If you had a magic wand, what would you change about maths lessons?” – which would allow to understand which aspects of maths teaching students consider to be negative and problematic.
Likewise therefore this year I began the first year teaching course by administering the questionnaire and the results have also been discouraging this time, confirming the negative trend of the preceding years. Approximately 65% of the students responded “not at all” or “not much” to the question - “Is mathematics a subject that you like (that interests you)? – and around 61% reported having negative experiences in relation to this discipline in preceding school years. What prevails in all the students is a sense of failure and inability with respect to maths; the emotions which it arouses in them are “hate”, “disgust”, “fear”, “disinterest”, “indifference”, and among the images which the students report as most representative of the idea of maths are the colour black, a tornado, a cross, and an emoticon with a non-smiling face.
When you read and analyse the responses given in the questionnaire, you understand better your own students, and therefore you can start a discussion taking into account their emotional and learning needs, and at the same time you become aware of the unconscious mistakes we make and which can disturb our students’ learning mechanisms. It always strikes me that students stress the need for teachers that are passionate, besides being patient, kind and pleasant, in their responses. Tommaso writes about maths: “The teaching was boring. It didn’t thrill me and I didn’t like it.” Elisa says: “They complained that I didn’t do things. I know I didn’t understand them, and then if I asked them to explain something again, they grumbled, they didn’t want to”. The data which I collected over the years of administering this questionnaire show a strong teaching need; Mirko complains, “There are too many calculations to do to then get a result that means nothing to me,” and suggests to us that perhaps in the maths teaching that generally takes place in the classroom what dominates is technical skill, and the meaning is lost, hidden among numbers, expressions, calculations and mechanically applied rules. Tommaso says, “I would take away all the formulas and all the calculations to be done”. How can we think of developing a deep interest in our students for a subject that we perhaps often set out and present as though it was a mere collection of rules and mechanisms to be learned by heart?!?

Comments on this Teachers Experience

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Date: 2014.10.01

Posted by Anna Luise (Italy)

Teachers often do not know the reason of their students’ failures and low motivation for Math ;they are even astonished when it takes place as well. I think that this experience can be an effective help in these context. The first days I meet the high school freshmen, I always talk a lot with them in order to understand their idea upon the Maths and its usefulness. Unfortunately, after few time, I do not remember all their inputs. In my opinion, this experience shows me a better organisation of students’ first impressions in order to make a more calm evaluation.


Dissemination Seminar in Florence

31 October 2015 The seminar has been held in ITIS “A. Meucci” one of the schools involved within Goerudio project activities. Its main aim was to promote the results of the project toward a broad sample of stakeholders even overcrossing the number of people directly involved in the production of project outcomes. This purpose has been totally achieved especially thanks to the participation of students and teachers coming from different schools or from other classes instead of those ones directly involved within the project activities.