#025 Ed Southall – Part 2: Maths Puzzles and Lessons from Japan

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On this episode of the Mr Barton Maths Podcast, I spoke to Ed Southall.

Ed is the course leader for the Maths Secondary PGCE at Huddersfield University, a maths tutor, and now a best-selling author, with his debut book Yes, but why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics currently Sage’s highest-selling book of the year. It’s an absolutely brilliant read, no matter how experienced a teacher you are, and surely it’s a matter of time before some Hollywood big-shot acquires the film rights.

Now, long time listeners of the podcast may remember Ed’s first appearance on the show, which was an absolute cracker. So, when I heard that Ed had been to Japan as part of the IMPULS Lesson Study Project to investigate how maths is taught in the Far East, I had to invite him back on, and flipping heck am I glad I did.

We had a fantastic conversation that covered the following things, and more:

  • Why does Ed feel puzzles are so important, both for teachers and students, and what makes a good puzzle?
  • What were Ed’s expectations before going to Japan?
  • Then Ed describes in fascinating detail a lesson on sequences, comparing and contrasting it with how he might have approach the topic with his students in the UK
  • How does planning take place in Japan?
  • What does the scheme of work look like?
  • How about the culture?
  • Then the big one really: how will Ed’s experience in Japan change his own practice?
  • And then, just as we are getting on so well and the interview is coming to an end, I decide to ruin it all by suggesting that there is a danger in asking for students’ thoughts and ideas when initially presenting a concept. Ed politely disagrees.

Ed is a pleasure to talk to, and whether I chat to him at a maths conference or over Skype for a podcast, I always come away more knowledgeable and with plenty to think about. I feel I understand the differences in approaches between Japan and the UK far more now, and crucially what we may want and not want to use in our own practices.I’ll even forgive him for not agreeing with me at the end.

The usual plea that if you enjoy this podcast, please give it a quick review and rating on iTunes. It really does make a difference to the podcast’s ranking, and thus to my ego. And please help spread the word about this podcast to your colleague. Many of you are using them as CPD on the move, whether it’s in the car on your way to work, doing the washing up, or as Jonathan Hall tweeted recently – providing a soundtrack at a barbeque. Who needs Ed Sheeran?

On Twitter Ed is @solvemymaths
His excellent blog can be found at: solvemymaths.com
His outstanding book is Yes, but why? Teaching for understanding in mathematics

Ed Southall’s Big 3
1. Geogebra  and associated materials 
2. Mathforum.org
3. Mathschallenge.net

My usual plugs:

Thanks so much for listening, and I really hope you enjoy the show!
Craig Barton

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