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# TSR's Best Mathematicians? watch

• View Poll Results: Best Mathmo?
47.21%
10.15%
21.83%
7.61%
6.60%
27.92%
22.84%
8.63%
6.60%
4.57%
10.15%
Unbounded (Pre-uni)
24.37%
Farhan.Hanif93 (Pre-uni)
25.89%
Small123 (Pre-uni)
7.61%
JChoudhry (Pre-uni)
9.14%
Goldfishy (Pre-uni)
6.09%

1. (Original post by DFranklin)
Outside of D1/D2, I'd say there's very little you need to actually memorize at A-level; since it's 20 years since I really looked at an A-level paper, I am open to correction on this point.
This is the case, I'm afraid. A ridiculous amount of info is given in a 'formula book' that are also provided in the exams. These make formulae and theorems taken for granted - it would be nice to see some A-level questions that make you derive some of the easier things in the formula books.
2. (Original post by Goldfishy)
This is the case, I'm afraid. A ridiculous amount of info is given in a 'formula book' that are also provided in the exams. These make formulae and theorems taken for granted - it would be nice to see some A-level questions that make you derive some of the easier things in the formula books.
This.
3. (Original post by Goldfishy)
This is the case, I'm afraid. A ridiculous amount of info is given in a 'formula book' that are also provided in the exams. These make formulae and theorems taken for granted - it would be nice to see some A-level questions that make you derive some of the easier things in the formula books.
Yup. It's surprising how many A-level Maths students can't derive the quadratic formula (for example).
4. (Original post by nuodai)
Yup. It's surprising how many A-level Maths students can't derive the quadratic formula (for example).
I would suggest that three quarters of A Level Maths teachers would not make the connection with completing the square either.
5. (Original post by Mr M)
I would suggest that three quarters of A Level Maths teachers would not make the connection with completing the square either.
Really? Isn't it part of the syllabus?

(Original post by Goldfishy)
A ridiculous amount of info is given in a 'formula book' that are also provided in the exams. These make formulae and theorems taken for granted - it would be nice to see some A-level questions that make you derive some of the easier things in the formula books.
To be honest, this doesn't hugely bother me except as a symptom; if people were doing reasonably demanding questions at A-level, they would find themselves not needing the booklets much.

Also, A-level "proofs" tend to be "learn by rote" not because they are difficult, but because they skim the details, and you therefore need to know what the "accepted" proof is. I've never been happy with such proofs (you get them at university as well, unfortunately).
6. (Original post by DFranklin)
Really? Isn't it part of the syllabus?
Completing the square is in the syllabus, but deriving the quadratic formula isn't. You do need to memorise the quadratic formula, though, although proposed (and rejected) changes to the Maths syllabus for 2011 included putting the quadratic formula in the formula book.
7. (Original post by Mr M)
I would suggest that three quarters of A Level Maths teachers would not make the connection with completing the square either.
Really? I'd hardly call my school 'good' but when I learnt C1/C2 in Year 8, the teacher consistently derived the quadratic formula in that way.
8. (Original post by Small123)
Really? I'd hardly call my school 'good' but when I learnt C1/C2 in Year 8, the teacher consistently derived the quadratic formula in that way.
By contrast, my sixth form was 'good' and to the best of my knowledge the quadratic formula was only ever quoted, and never derived.
9. (Original post by DFranklin)
Really? Isn't it part of the syllabus?
No it isn't. When I trained to teach (secondary mathematics PGCE) we were all given envelopes containing strips starting with ax^2 + bx + c = 0 and finishing with the quadratic formula and we had to put them in order. Only 2 of us out of 30 could do it (me and a Cambridge mathematics graduate). The sea of blank faces was something to behold.
10. (Original post by Mr M)
I would suggest that three quarters of A Level Maths teachers would not make the connection with completing the square either.
True, but I think it's exam board's mistake not teachers to not to include proofs in syllabus.
11. (Original post by Mr M)
No it isn't. When I trained to teach (secondary mathematics PGCE) we were all given envelopes containing strips starting with ax^2 + bx + c = 0 and finishing with the quadratic formula and we had to put them in order. Only 2 of us out of 30 could do it (me and a Cambridge mathematics graduate). The sea of blank faces was something to behold.
<adds to list of anecdotes for the next time someone claims "grades are up because the teaching is better">
12. (Original post by DFranklin)
<adds to list of anecdotes for the next time someone claims "grades are up because the teaching is better">
It gets worse. I ran informal sessions in the university coffee bar to remind some of the trainees how to solve linear simultaneous equations and factorise quadratics. They were well attended.
13. (Original post by Mr M)
..
Out of curiosity, what proportion of A-level teachers do you think could get a 1 grade in STEP I themselves (with reasonable preparation time)?

Edit: (oh, and give 'em an extra hour or 2 as well - I'm not wanting it to be a speed test)
14. (Original post by nuodai)
Completing the square is in the syllabus, but deriving the quadratic formula isn't. You do need to memorise the quadratic formula, though, although proposed (and rejected) changes to the Maths syllabus for 2011 included putting the quadratic formula in the formula book.
The fact you dont have to memorise it annoyed me, I learnt all my maths formuals for GCSE and am doing for A level off by heart becuase i got told we may need to only to find out they were given in the exam .
15. (Original post by DFranklin)
Out of curiosity, what proportion of A-level teachers do you think could get a 1 grade in STEP I themselves (with reasonable preparation time)?

Edit: (oh, and give 'em an extra hour or 2 as well - I'm not wanting it to be a speed test)
Very few. Maybe 1 in 20 as a generous estimate. There are seven other A Level mathematics teachers in my department and I only think two of them would grade at all without preparation. To be fair, none of them have ever looked at a STEP paper. I leave them lying around in case they might be interested but it hasn't worked so far!

I forgot I had a video of one of my trainee teacher remedial sessions. Enjoy.

16. (Original post by DFranklin)
Out of curiosity, what proportion of A-level teachers do you think could get a 1 grade in STEP I themselves (with reasonable preparation time)?

Edit: (oh, and give 'em an extra hour or 2 as well - I'm not wanting it to be a speed test)
I went to a school with a really strong maths department and even the 4 best teachers struggled a lot with STEP. One of my stronger ones with a really high IQ said he'd be fine taking STEP I, but he wouldn't be happy walking into STEP II or III.
17. (Original post by Swayum)
I went to a school with a really strong maths department and even the 4 best teachers struggled a lot with STEP. One of my stronger ones with a really high IQ said he'd be fine taking STEP I, but he wouldn't be happy walking into STEP II or III. One who went to Cambridge (so presumably did got 1, 1 in II and III) couldn't get out a STEP I question on the board, but obviously that's not indicative.
What I was trying to get at was a level of "confidence/comfort in the subject" in a teacher beyond just being able to do the A-level questions. STEP I was about the best thing that came to mind, but it's not exactly what I wanted.
18. My teacher actually tried to derive the quadratic formula in class (I think because someone asked), but he got stuck somewhere (possibly it was because of a mistake), then after bit of a gaze he told us to take it home and do the rest as a homework. I don't think any of us did that, and we just went on using the formula the next day. I had to learn the derivation from the book sometime after.
19. Meh, my maths teacher (Head of Maths) was atrocious. He had a degree in Maths (WHAT A PRIVILEDGE!) except he forever boasted about how he never did anything, couldn't remember any of the little he did do, and got kicked out of his original university. Funnily enough he always justified it (to hiself) by claiming he'd have got a first if he could have been bothered . Anyway, he once went remotely off topic when we started FP1 (Complex plane) and pointlessly quized the class on What infinity is BIGGER?? and ended up intuitively 'geussing' the topic (i.e. R^2>R), he didn't show us anything - just claimed that there is a proof that even he couldn't understand... Anyway, whenever I asked him for help on a STEP question he'd ALWAYS say "oh that's just Number Theory, you should read some Number Theory" i'm like... wtf?! and then he tells me that even if it doesn't look like Number Theory, you can connect it - Thats how they proved FLT. I grew tired very fast, sad thing is he probably thinks his advice/help is great because I did well in STEP.

edit: ironically this was at a maths specialist college

We're bashing teachers, right???

FWIW I prefer a dumb teacher who can interact with the entire class well and make people feel good about themselves teaches more useful skills then some clever douche. All my maths teachers didn't seem to like maths , Physics certainly wins on that.

//ramble

Anyway, I heard the teaching (PGCE) courses are quite demanding. Examples of people being **** at maths to start isn't important - aslong as they pass at the correct level by the end, surely?
20. (Original post by DFranklin)
What I was trying to get at was a level of "confidence/comfort in the subject" in a teacher beyond just being able to do the A-level questions. STEP I was about the best thing that came to mind, but it's not exactly what I wanted.
For what it's worth, my school's department had 12 or so members in the maths department, and there were certainly at least 5 of them that could comfortably tackle STEP (any paper).

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