Archive for October, 2011

Enrichment

October 21, 2011

This week’s MEd session was on the subject of Enrichment. Our pre-session task invited us to first consider the following questions:

  • What is ‘enrichment’?
  • What roles could ‘enrichment’ play?
  • Who should be ‘enriched’?
  • Where and when should ‘enrichment’ take place?

After writing our answers to these questions, there were three pre-session readings. The idea was to reflect on our first feelings to see if they changed based on the readings.

Here are my thoughts from before the session:

Enrichment is that which enriches… it is something that gives students a richer experience of learning mathematics than they otherwise would have. For me, a rich experience would be one that involved making the connections between diverse areas of mathematics, and being exposed to the big ideas of mathematics. It would be a learning experience that offered young people the chance to work like mathematicians – exploring, making conjectures, justifying, proving.

Enrichment could happen on different levels and in different ways. An otherwise dry and dusty textbook lesson could be enriched slightly by passing reference to the connections with other areas of mathematics. A particular task cannot necessarily be considered an enrichment task – it is the way that the task is presented that makes it enriching. Enrichment is relative to the child, the teacher, the cultural norms of mathematics education in that time and space.

I firmly and strongly believe that every child should be entitled to an enriching learning experience in mathematics. Chances to explore, make connections and work like a mathematician should be a part of normal maths lessons. This is not to say that extra-curricular enrichment activities are unnecessary; on the contrary, young people who have maths brought alive for them within the classroom may well get more out of enrichment opportunities outside the classroom, who knows? I am very glad that maths masterclasses take place, and it would be great if there were chances for every child who got excited by maths to participate in such events.

The discussion on Wednesday was fascinating, as different people shared their views on enrichment. Our Masters group are quite a diverse bunch, with lots of different educational backgrounds, so this all fed into the discussion. I don’t think my views have changed very much from the above; I don’t think I will ever stop believing that we should aim to give everyone a good experience of learning maths and a good understanding of what maths actually is – so much more than just arithmetic and accountancy.