Many students are afraid of mathematics. To tackle this, the Dongemond college provides mathematics lessons at primary school. ‘If parents keep saying that it is complicated, such a child is already 10-0 behind.’
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Suddenly there is a sparkle in Kyan’s eyes. Together with his fellow group members Daan and Maud, he has been staring at a flippo with the numbers 4, 4, 5 and 8 for a minute. Math teacher Anne Robbemond has just given them the assignment to use it to do a sum that amounts to 24.
8 times 4 is 32, that’s what Kyan first calculated. But after that he couldn’t figure it out anymore. But then he has it: 4 times 5, plus 8 and then minus 4. “Very good,” says Robbemond. Kyan happily writes the sum down in his notebook. He has just learned that: mathematics is not necessarily about the right answer, but about the road to it.
For many children, the transition from primary school mathematics to secondary school mathematics is difficult. With a large government subsidy, the Dongemond college has recently started offering introductory mathematics lessons to primary schools.
Today is the very first time. Robbemond, who until recently was a mathematics teacher but is now working on this project, will be in front of the class this Friday at the Geertruidenberg primary school De Vuurvlinder. Students often think that the step from arithmetic to mathematics is a big one, she says. “And if parents keep saying that math is very complicated, they are, so to speak, 10-0 behind before they even start.”
With these lessons, the Dongemond College wants to lower the threshold. After today, there will be about six more, all to students in group 8. It is pioneering, says Robbemond. “We’ve never done any of this before, but we base everything we do on scientific research.”
Today’s lesson starts off easy. Students must determine from a number of numbers or figures which one does not belong. All answers can be right, as long as the path to them is correct. At one point a girl with a white shirt and long hair asks what the name of the figure on the blackboard is.
“How many corners does it have?” asks Robbemond. “Six,” she answers. “So what’s his name then?” “A hexagon,” she says scornfully. “Indeed,” says Robbemond. That’s math. Super logical. There is no more logical subject than mathematics.”
It may be logical, but when it comes to the use of letters in mathematics, some students still have a hard time. When Robbemond drops the sum ‘a times b’, a girl with a long tail and black sweater literally opens her mouth in amazement.
All this is only for secondary school, Robbemond emphasizes. And fortunately, some students already know exactly what to do if they don’t make it in high school. “You can type it all into Google and you will get an answer.”