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Geometry Microworld for the Valiant Turtle


Since at least the 1960's it has been accepted that the Primary school mathematics curriculum should embrace a wide variety of work, commonly described under such conventional headings as 'Number', 'Measurement', 'Pictorial Representation' etc.. However, despite great efforts put into curriculum development in this field over the last twenty years, many mathematics schemes of work lay great emphasis on the development of numerical ideas, while geometrical work is accorded a subordinate role. At worst, suggestions for work in this area have sometimes consisted merely of exercises in shape recognition and use of drawing instruments. This view of geometry is reflected in many commercially-produced mathematics schemes which indicate a general lack of purpose and sense of direction as far as spatial work is concerned. Many teachers may feel reasonably confident about number and measurement but are far less certain about such questions as:

  • How important is geometry?
  • What is worth doing in the classroom?
  • How might the work progress?

This 'Geometry Microworld' has been produced in the conviction that there are some powerful reasons for giving geometry an important place in the curriculum. These can be stated as follows:

  1. Geometrical work can, by its very nature, be appealing and motivating to young children.
  2. The practical work involved offers many natural opportunities for links with other areas of the curriculum.
  3. Although as abstract as number, geometry. at the elementary level, is concerned with the study of the space in which we all live.
  4. Geometry is a good medium in which problem-solving and investigative work can be promoted with children over a wide range of age and ability.
  5. There is an 'accumulation of evidence, both from research and from the experience of classroom practitioners, to suggest that visual images play an important and fundamental role in our thinking, and may be just as vital for success in mathematics as the ability to handle symbols with confidence. Thus geometry may have, in addition to its intrinsic interest and practical uses, an important contribution to make in providing a rich source of images to support work in other areas of mathematics - in fact, throughout the whole curriculum.
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