Senior Cycle - Ordinary Level

Ideas for Teachers

Most students do Ordinary Level Maths for the Leaving. For many it’ll be their last formal encounter with Mathematics. Make it a good experience by teaching for meaning rather than teaching for methods. That’s what Project Maths is all about.

Maths makes sense. For example, here is a quadratic being solved:

But here is a WRONG way of solving:

What is correct with the first solution is that it is based on the Zero Law: If AB = 0 then either A = 0 or B = 0. This is true. What’s WRONG with the second solution is that is based on the WRONG premise that if AB = 10 then either A = 10 or B = 10. This is simply not true. It’s the teacher’s job to allow students to UNDERSTAND the Zero Law, to think about it and to see that it makes sense.

Project Maths has made Maths more real, more meaningful and more interesting for students. As a result it is harder to teach. Our job as teachers is not to ‘cover’ every type of possible question, but rather to teach our students to think. This is not easy. It takes time, and it requires good explanations and good classroom discussions to get to the heart of the underlying principles of Maths. This runs counter to the most popular way of teaching the old maths course: a set of methods to be learnt by rote, like a recipe book for cooking.