I have worked as a mathematics educator for over 30 years (first as a secondary teacher and then as an adviser). I have trialled problem solving and diagnostic approaches in mathematics and science including CAME (Cognitive Acceleration through Maths Education) and First Steps Mathematics. My most recent full-time post involved working across 40 Welsh secondary schools on addressing disaffection among 11 to 13 year old students. I have been facilitating P4C since 2005 and in that time have completed courses and requirements to become a P4C trainer. I am also a trustee of SAPERE which is the charity which promotes P4C in the United Kingdom. I have recently co-authored a chapter in the book ‘Philosophy for Children Across the Secondary Curriculum’ featuring P4C in Mathematics. I have written a course for teachers on P4C in mathematics which provides background and practical ideas across all age groups.
promoting Communities of Philosophical Enquiry
The original practice of P4C focused on school-aged children but has more recently expanded successfully to include community groups. The practice is of benefit to people of all levels of attainment.
I have worked with:
• Students with low levels of formal literacy,
• ‘More Able’ students,
• students seeking development of mathematical and scientific problem solving skills,
• whole ‘mixed ability’ classes,
• groups promoting sustainability such as local transition town networks and school groups interested in sustainability and democracy
• adult book groups, and
• more recently have collaborated on practical philosophy as part of community events.
A key aim of mine is to promote a transition model whereby year 7 form teachers train with teachers from years 5 and 6 in their feeder primaries. The proposed outcome is that P4C will become an integral part of the education of 5 to 18 year olds in the cluster of schools.
In the United Kingdom, P4C is promoted by a charity called SAPERE www.sapere.org.uk. I am a SAPERE registered trainer for level 1 courses for teachers. My interest is in longer term associations with schools and community groups so that facilitation of P4C is supported and, over time, becomes embedded in the organization. Part of this is work supporting schools towards the achievement of bronze, silver and gold SAPERE kite-mark awards.
‘Get into reading’ groups
I am a trained facilitator for the practice of shared reading aloud of text and poetry. This is an exciting and enjoyable approach to stimulating the motivation to read and also to increase confidence, communication skills and greatly increasing the sense of well-being of the participants. These advantages make shared reading aloud a fundamentally important activity. My interest is particularly in using my facilitation skills to work with reluctant readers in schools and with their parents. The reader Organization has a website www.thereader.org.uk
Other Professional Activity
I am an experienced mathematics teacher/educator/adviser and have worked extensively in both primary and secondary schools to develop and promote modes of teaching which install deep understanding of the subject. I am particularly interested in the development of students’ higher-order thinking skills in mathematics through dialogue, discussion and collaborative problem solving. When working with teachers, I focus on the power of feedback and coaching of students and the provision of engaging activities which challenge students to reach beyond their present attainment.
I have a long-standing interest in the developing area of Complexity Theory. It might be premature to call this a theory at this stage, however there is increasing evidence that ideas of self-organisation and emergence promoted by interplay between an organism (or unit) and its environment can be seen in a wide variety of contexts. Complexity is more than ‘being complicated’. A jet engine is complicated but undergoes no transformation through interaction with its environment. I am interested in how complexity provides a lens for looking at learning and education. (see my research presentation to the P4C ICPIC conference in Cape Town linked under research in this website).