17 July 2017

Strength in Numbers

I've finally rejoined the Mathematical Association! It's about time. I've not been a member since I was a trainee teacher. Over Easter I read a fascinating chapter on the history of maths education and was struck by this paragraph...
"The emphasis on Euclid, and a growing feeling that it was outdated and inappropriate, led in 1871 to the creation of the Association for the Improvement of Geometrical Teaching (AIGT), probably the world’s first subject teachers association. As its name suggests, the AIGT argued for a replacement for Euclid, an aim already dismissed by a committee of the British Association set up in 1869 (including Cayley, Clifford and Sylvester) which thought nothing so far produced ‘is fit to succeed Euclid’. The AIGT produced its own course, but it was not to prove a success or be widely welcomed by universities. Undeterred, the AIGT broadened its interests to other branches of mathematics teaching and in 1894 published the first number of its Mathematics Gazette, before changing its name to ‘The Mathematical Association’ (MA) in 1897."
The oldest subject teachers association in the world! After reading this I wondered why on earth I wasn't a member of the MA. As a maths teacher, how can I not support an organisation that has played such a key role in the history of mathematics education? Particularly given the terrible recruitment and retention crisis we're currently facing, maths teachers need to stand together.

Importantly for me, the MA doesn't push a progressive agenda. Its representatives don't tell teachers that they're doing it all wrong - they are never patronising or dismissive. They are supportive, encouraging and knowledgeable. The MA's Twitter feed is excellent - as well as keeping maths teachers well informed, it listens carefully and joins in our conversations. The MA is well positioned to present sensible, timely and representative views about mathematics education in consultations and in the media.

There are numerous benefits to joining the MA. Publications and branch events are the key mechanisms through which it has an impact in the classroom. Shortly after joining I received a parcel full of exciting stuff - I particularly like the fantastic resources featured in the Mathematics in Schools journals. And what good timing to receive a set of puzzles to get stuck into over the holidays!
The main benefit of joining the MA comes from being part of a network. I'd like to see more and more teachers joining the MA over the year ahead, so that it grows to become even more representative and influential. I'd very much like to see the MA's publications have a far-reaching impact on teaching and learning. Please join - and contribute your ideas - to make this happen!

Another way you can make a difference is to sign up to present at BCME 9. This is going to be huge! Instead of the usual separate ATM and MA conferences next Easter, BCME (British Congress of Mathematics Education) is taking place in April 2018, bringing all the members of the JMC together for a joint conference. I'd like to see as many maths teachers as possible standing up and sharing their ideas and experiences. If you'd like to speak, submit a proposal by the end of July.
I strongly encourage all maths teachers to consider joining the MA this summer. It's logical isn't it? Strength in numbers. Together, let's make the MA the biggest and the best subject association in the world.


  1. I myself took up MA last year and can probably say it gives you whole lot of opportunities. It gives you the best network available. Also, the environment is very progressive and motivated.

  2. How does it differ to the ATM. I can only afford one. What are the key differences?

    1. I'm so sorry I missed this comment! The organisations have a lot in common but in some respects advocate different approaches to teaching.