Crown House Publishing/Independent Thinking Press have been gradually building up their series on 'perfect' teaching, which began by looking at teaching in general before expanding to roles such as SENCOs and even School Governors. 'The Perfect Ofsted English Lesson' came out two years ago; now maths gets a look into and science will follow shortly.
Ian Loynd's CV regarding teaching is certainly impressive and his enthusiasm for it and for maths comes across in abundance in this short but concise handbook, full of interesting pedagogy and practical ideas. A highlight is the tasks he suggests (something I enjoy the most when reading books like these), including an important section on trying to link maths to students' lives. For example, the task of giving a class different mobile tariffs to choose from and asking them which is best leads nicely into plotting graphs. This is so much more real than giving out a scaffolded sheet on functions and hoping pupils get to grips with the idea and simply accept that they need to be able to use this skill, something I have been guilty of in lessons this year. I particularly like the low access, high ceiling task of calculating the cost of repainting the classroom walls with two coats of paint. It reminds me of many of the excellent Nuffield AMP Practical Explorations.
Of course such ideas are not new and Ian is the first to modestly say in his acknowledgements that the ideas are entirely those of his colleagues from over the years. I would have liked to have seen some indication however, that such ideas have been around a very long time. There are no references predating 2000 in the back and many of the links are to other Crown House publications. Other key areas covered include differentiation, relationships for learning, and independent learning; there are wise words spoken on each of these topics. Ofsted discussion also gets a big look into, though the mathematical learning that children undertake remains the focal point, as it should.
Overall, the book is short and sweet and draws on big ideas from lots of other places. The main message is about learning and is summed up well by a quote in the book from a child, originally from an Ofsted report: -˜You need to understand and not just do it. You think you know how to do it but you get to an exam and you can't. You realize that nobody's told you why it works and why you do what you do, so you can't remember it.' All readers should close the back cover thinking about this and having taken away new ideas to help enable mathematical thinking.