Struggling at mathematics 

Filling the pail

It was a Saturday morning and I was stood in a field in the North of England, holding a shotgun. I had just missed five clay pigeons in a row while being gently mocked by the instructor. It was my friend’s stag weekend. The night before had been a late one and I was feeling a little depleted.

I gestured to a grassy bank and said that I was going to sit down. “I’ll just watch from now on,” I explained. The instructor, feeling a little guilty, tried to talk me around; he wanted me to get my money’s worth. But I was having none of it. Clay pigeon shooting and me were over.

This is how maths must feel to many students, except that we rarely let them sit it out – perhaps with the exception of some kinds of group work. Instead, we keep throwing them into…

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I teach
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