An interactive session with teachers around the world to celebrate International Mathematics Day 2021 was organized by the Aga Khan University's Institute of Educational Development in Pakistan.
Teachers from a wide range of schools including private, government, community-based and madrasa (religious) school systems in urban and rural Pakistan, India and East Africa participated in the virtual conference which adopted an unusual approach. Instead of the usual
paper presentations, teachers were asked to submit video clips, demonstrating mathematics
teaching and learning in real-life contexts. Over 300 teachers responded to the
call, submitting their best teaching moments, with selected videos – chosen by
an panel of experts – streamed during the session. In one of the selected videos, a teacher from a madrasa in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa explores the concept of division with his primary school students. A notoriously difficult topic for children, the teacher uses pebbles to calculate and divide while seamlessly switching between Urdu and Pushto while teaching.
In another video, the value of pi is physically demonstrated: the teacher draws a large circle on the ground and asks a student to walk around the edge. A second student is then asked to walk from one point on the circle to another point through the centre, to find the relationship between the footsteps taken by the two students.
The audience appreciated the quality of mathematics instruction shown in the videos that demonstrate that effective teaching is possible if teachers have the knowledge, skills and a positive attitude towards teaching mathematics.
In the keynote address, Professor Helen Chick, from the Faculty of Education at the University of Tasmania, Australia spoke about her rich experience of working with mathematics teachers and teacher educators. She emphasised the importance of teachers having sound knowledge of their subject and a variety of teaching methods. Through relevant examples, she provided insights into how teachers can develop simple but effective activities for building sound understanding of key concepts.
Dr Lee Ngan Hoe from the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, conducted a session 'Learning that sticks! A revisit of Bruner's and Piaget's Theories'. Dr Hoe highlighted the importance of teachers' grasp of learning theories can help design instruction that can promote meaningful learning.
After an entire day of intellectually stimulating talks, Sheema Kermani, a well-known dancer and activist, presented the relationship between mathematics and art through dance. She discussed how body, mind and soul interact to develop rich cognitive potential which is essential for mathematics learning.
Commenting on the sessions in the conference, one of the participants shared: “I have never enjoyed the International Mathematics Day [as much] as this one. It was such a creative space for teachers, activists, students and academics."