You are here: Home / Portfolio / Timeline / Employment / Teacher of Mathematics and Computer Studies at Scott Lidgett School

Teacher of Mathematics and Computer Studies at Scott Lidgett School

Taught Mathematics to mixed ability groups from 11-16 and sixth form A-level groups. Took responsibility in 1978 for Computer Studies and created whole school curriculum analysis in 1979.
When Aug 31, 1977 to
Jul 30, 1980
Where London
Aim: To design improvements to mathematics education practice.

I took this post in order to pursue my new found interest in teaching in a comprehensive and mixed ability setting.

The Mathematics department, led by Keith Philip adopted the Heinemann Modular Mathematics scheme - a limited flexibility mixed ability resource-based learning curriculum. Oleg Liber, a colleague in the school, led a vigorous debate around switching to the Secondary Mathematics Individualised Learning Experiment (SMILE), but the consensus in the department was to remain with the existing scheme. Oleg Liber left after my first year to pursue his passion at Stockwell Manor school.

In my second year, I took additional responsibility for teaching Computer Studies and helped develop a Mode 3 CSE syllabus and examination with teachers from local schools. I also joined professional development courses run by the Inner London Educational Computing Centre (ILECC), based at the City of London Polytechnic.

Reflection: Developing examinations led to an interest in the design of objective tests - multiple choice questions - and I began to see the value of building reliable banks of such questions for testing factual knowledge.

In this period I taught programming with BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Interaction Code) and CESIL (a simplified assembly language). The BASIC work was achieved by marking the code for each character on 80-column cards. The cards were sent to ILECC and returned by motorcycle courier a week later. This introduced me to the idea of a learning loop, in this case a week long before another cycle could begin! Some work was also done using the teletype connected by acoustic coupler modem to the City of London Polytechnic minicomputer.

In my third year I took a much greater interest in programming when the school was encouraged to purchase a Research Machines 380z microcomputer. This found its way home with me each weekend whenever possible. Using it, I constructed a simulation of a snooker ball which used dynamic graphics to show the path it would take once given a bearing and cue strength - the aim was to pocket the ball.

Reflection: Observing children using my snooker program for fun, showed me how engaging simulations could be and how they could drive mathematical inquiry. Pupils would search the cupboard for a protractor to hold up against the screen, and, as they continued to try and pocket the ball, a non-judgmental learning-loop occurred, later cemented by reading David Hargreaves ideas (Hargreaves, 1975) where their attempts drove an understanding of bearings. My analysis [A1] Expressive constructivism is rooted in this experience which also informed [A2] How can technology enhance learning.

As the year progressed I became involved with the Microcomputers in Computer Education (MICE) group which tried to develop new software which used the new dynamic graphics capability of microcomputers to explain and explore computing concepts. I was now fully involved in my spare time designing educational software and begun looking for a job which could fulfil this new-found passion. I signed up for a course run at the Polytechnic of the South Bank by Dr Morfydd Edwards - her lectures and workshops brought the current research into the field, particularly that of the National Development Programme for Computer Assisted Learning (NDPCAL) (Hooper, 1978; Millwood, 1987 p8) into an effective relationship with practical design, development approaches and skills.

Also in this year I undertook to create a summary analysis of the curriculum offered by the school in terms of the resources allocated to each subject area.

Reflection: The task of creating a whole school curriculum analysis brought me into direct contact with the school's management and permitted me to gain insight into a holistic view of a school's organisation.
Contribution: I led the teaching and development of Computer Studies in the school working with colleagues in the local authority, developing Mode 3 syllabus and examination. I independently developed the Snooker learning software for mathematics and for computer studies and was solely responsible for creating a curriculum analysis for the whole school. My part: 100%
Originality, impact and importance: The software developed, Snooker, was in its time completely original as a design for learning and foreshadowed many interactive graphic simulations to come. It was published later and was widely used in schools in the 1980s (SMILE, 1984).

(Words: 781 )

Filed under: