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The Way They do it at School is Different to the Way I did it at School

Are your children doing mathematics differently at school now days? Is it okay to show them 'your way' of solving a mathematical problem? This video is for you.


Good morning! This is Jason Ursino from Learning Space, and I'm Driving to School.

Today, I'm going to be talking about a particular statement that I hear from parents a lot and it goes something like this, “The way I did it at school is different to the way they do it at school”. Specifically, I'm talking about Mathematics and I'm talking about the computation of numbers or various other parts of maths.

Me, as a maths teacher, I'm going to tell you this morning that it's okay, it is absolutely okay to show them your way of teaching. So if you are sitting down, helping your son or daughter with their homework, for example, and they are confused about something and you want to help them out and show them a different way of doing it. If they say something like, "Oh, our teacher showed us a different way". You can just simply say something like, "Well, I will show you how to do it this way, you have a look at it and if you like my way, you do it my way. If you prefer your teacher's way, just do it your teacher's way”. If you say it like that, there's no pressure to the student about which way they should be doing it. Rather then, them looking at the different methods and then choosing what's best for them.

Now I have marked many maths exams and there have been situations that, when I marked the test, I can see that there is a different method in the working to what was taught in class and they do not get penalised for that. It's okay, and in the HSC marking, it's quite similar to that concept, where any method, as long as it is correct, is awarded marks.

So it doesn't need to be the conventional way of answering a question, you can do it the way that it is encouraged in class or the way the student prefers, it doesn't matter.

So for example, there's the 63 minus 19, a simple subtraction. There is an algorithm way of doing it, some of them are different but that's okay. There's also mental strategies, things like rounding the 19 to 20 and then subtracting 20 and then moving it back one or going down by 10 and then by 9. I mean these strategies have different names, like rounding or partitioning, but it really doesn't matter what they’re called. All that matters is that the student understands how to do it and they pick that method to do their subtraction anytime they get a question of that nature.

So, if a student is able to do a particular question because they are comfortable with a particular method then that's fine. In fact, it's encouraged for students to come up with their own methods, it's the high level thinking that we're really interested in not just following a particular algorithm.

If you like my videos, there are more of them at and have a good day!

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