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Award for Irish Teachers of Mathematics

Motivation

      From the role of Boolean algebra in communication technologies to the Radon transform in medical imaging, Mathematics underpins scientific and technological progress. However the long-term and diffuse nature of its returns are linked to a reluctance to invest in mathematics, which can in time lead to an insidious deterioration of the quality of mathematical education in schools.

      In Ireland, major reforms like Project Maths have aimed to increase the students’ ability to apply their mathematical knowledge to real-life situations. Currently, the international PISA mathematics test results place Ireland above the OECD average. However, Ireland continues to lag behind the OECD average in the percentage of students at the higher levels of PISA performance and markedly in problem solving. This points to the need for further progress in nurturing creativity along with mathematical proficiency. Indeed, the government’s first Action Plan, launched in March 2016, aims at increasing the proportion of students achieving PISA Mathematics level 5 or above from the current 11% to above the OECD average (currently 13%) by 2025. With only 7% of the total learning time in secondary schools dedicated to Mathematics, (the smallest percentage in Europe), this is a difficult task. Highly competent, highly motivated teachers are needed to achieve this goal. 

Aims

Across Ireland there are teachers rising to the challenges of their profession: adapting to major changes in the curriculum, helping all students to reach their potential, perfecting their mastery of the subject, motivating and inspiring pupils, contributing to the educational community.The purpose of the Awards for Irish Teachers of Mathematics is to help showcase the work of such teachers, to help share their strategies for improving the students’ enjoyment and understanding of Mathematics, and to reward an outstanding teacher each year. 

Student Survey

   In a recent survey by IMT, more than 2,000 secondary school students from across the Republic of Ireland identified those factors which can motivate them to achieve in Mathematics.

  • 79% credited teachers with a good mastery of the subject.

  • Working with peers who like and understand Mathematics was chosen by 58% of participants, and an equal percent favoured dedicating more time to applications of Mathematics in real life.

  • More school time dedicated to creative problem solving was deemed necessary by 54% of respondents.

  •  41% required understanding as to why the formulas taught in school are true, and an equal number quoted online resources as beneficial; 

  • 36% thought more time allocated to Mathematics in primary and secondary schools overall would be beneficial.

  • 29% were motivated by special events like Mathematics competitions or festivals.

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