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September 11, 2019

Translating Mathematics Curriculum Words into Children's Learning

Revealing the hidden words beneath a mathematics curriculum specification

At a Fabian Education Policy Group meeting in London in May this year, I met Professor Marilyn Leask who explained to me her involvement with the VSO/MESH Numeracy for All project. In this project, VSO workers are to support adults working with young children in developing countries to build their numeracy capabilities. I accepted the invitation to volunteer my time and, after meeting some of the team in Winchester, I agreed to put a few words together to help those adults working with children translate the words and phrases of their country’s curriculum specification into practical and meaningful learning activities. The assignment proved fascinating. Drawing on a lifetime of teaching, researching, policy development and evaluation, this proved an assignment of privilege. Curriculum words sit on the visible tip of an iceberg under which lie all the substance and meanings of what really constitutes the curriculum. The three strata of concepts, processes and affects were reflected in the three profile components of the original 1988 National Curriculum for Mathematics (for England and Wales). This three-dimensional constitution of the curriculum can be traced back to the Queensland State mathematics syllabus of 1986. I have resurrected all this thinking in the attached short paper. Hyperlinks in this paper take the reader to illustrations, presentations and related published papers. I am particularly pleased with Figure 1 on page 2 of the attached paper. The picture synthesises the many parts and facets of a curriculum for mathematics and, at the same time, gives clues to the pedagogical approaches that benefit and secure learning.

The short paper

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