Cool maths for Japan!
Upon the establishment of Bowland Japan
Bowland Maths was started in England by a sense of crisis expressed by a businessman, who, six years ago, asked me: “what is the best way I could contribute funds to help improve maths education in England?” In our initial analysis of the problems with maths education, we discovered that pupils lost enthusiasm for maths as they moved from primary school, where they saw maths as fun and puzzle-like, to secondary school, where they found maths increasingly boring and difficult. At the same time, we reaffirmed the importance of maths education in developing thinking skills – so vital for the future of the country. We set the principal objectives of Bowland Maths as being to foster problem solving and creativity for this reason: to think with mathematical reasoning and to analyze using mathematical methods are keys to problem solving in a wide range of real life settings.
The concept of Bowland Case Studies was developed based on this analysis and on debates about these issues. Bowland Case Studies were then developed which typically use 2-5 hour long classes to solve problems in real world contexts. They are designed to capture the imagination of pupils through fun topics, with up-to-date IT – appropriate for those who have grown up using computers and mobile phones, and based on open problems where there may not be a single right answer. At the same time, we developed professional development modules to help teachers adopt teaching styles in classrooms suitable for such types of maths, and a series of assessment items to help measure students’ learning.
From initial analysis, through the realization of ideas, and on to final evaluation, Bowland Maths has relied upon the efforts of a number of people and organisations. I believe the results are innovations based on our tradition of developing context-rich maths.
It is with great pleasure that I see Bowland Maths make its first step in Japan. I also look forward to the educational materials that will be developed by Bowland Japan in the future. Japan has a strong tradition of improving classroom practice through collaboration between teachers and researchers. Using such a tradition for the further development of teaching materials, building on our experience, will surely result in a key contribution to maths education in the world.
I look forward to the day materials from Bowland Japan are used in England.
Director, Bowland Maths