For many, the word ‘maths’ conjures up images of endless lessons in geometry, calculus and other difficult concepts. If you struggle to find any meaningful connection between these abstract equations and your everyday life be assured that you are not alone.

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Imagine a situation where children actually embrace the subject of maths, where they choose to engage and it becomes naturally incorporated into their daily tasks and experiences. This is the ground-breaking approach known as ‘chatty maths’.

What is the basic idea of chatty maths?

Chatty maths is a method of incorporating maths into discussions about everything and anything that we do in daily life if it makes sense to do so. The focus is on informal chatting, rather than looking for right or wrong answers, which is a deliberate move to squash the idea that only some people can actually ‘do’ maths. Ultimately, the method tries to make maths relatable to all pupils.

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How does it work in practice?

Chatty maths topics mostly involve familiar, everyday things such as food, maps or vehicles. Everything from shape and size to volume and more advanced concepts can be covered depending on the student’s ability and confidence level. This is not a replacement for key concepts that still need to be covered, but provides a vital way for more learners to connect, and better understand, the meaning of the topic at hand. It’s also good for teachers, as everyday items or existing resources can easily be incorporated into the learning experience, with the use of traditional items such as school dry wipe whiteboards from suppliers including still needed to provide any visual notes and prompts required.

Is it successful?

This more engaging approach to what can be a scary topic is not totally novel, and, for example, Helen Williams, an independent maths consultant and teacher, adopts a similar approach with positive and enriching outcomes, but it is perhaps the first time that a more uniform adoption of a less traditional approach to teaching maths has gained such status. Schools that have adopted this approach report good results from more positive learning environments, with increased levels of interest, concentration and achievement.

There’s no denying that understanding the way maths works is beneficial to many aspects of life, and this is a good way for this important topic to be embraced.