Why Maths Like a Pirate? @mathspirates #mlap14

Because in a 21st century knowledge building society, 
Who wants to do maths like Jane Austin?

In 2012 I participated in Jane Gilbert's Special topic at Waikato University. Titled: The Future of Schools in Aotearoa / NZ. In this paper we were asked to think and imagine what might knowledge buidling look like in the classroom.

I read a book called Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess  
The similarities between pirates, some teachers and many students did not pass me by!

After two years of thinking, Maths Like a Pirate is the result. My hope is that Maths Like a Pirate is a nudge forward towards  shifting assumptions about knowledge and furthering a culture where students are the producers and builders of knowledge.
Pirates interrupt the mediocre...
Pirates settle for nothing untill they have the treasure...
Its not what a pirate knows, its what a pirate does with what they know...
Pirates interrupt what is normal...
Pirates work hard and play hard...
Pirates will use what ever strategy they have available to obtain and keep treasure!

Questions I ask:
1. What might knowledge building look like in the classroom?
2. If Knowledge is about movement, then what is moving in this Maths lesson?
3. If knowledge is about change, then what is changing in this Maths  lesson?
4. If one of the principles in the NZC is to be future-focused. How is this lesson working with uncertainty?
5. What could future-oriented 21st century teaching really look like when teaching Maths?


1. The importance of play, passion and purpose
Tony Wagner  (a more in depth outline of Wagner's work at the end of this post)
Creating Innovators

2.  Idea Improvement 
Central to the steps towards innovative thinking and outcomes.
 Andy Hargreaves
Professional Capital: Transforming Teaching in Every School

3. Problem identification to sit along side problem solvingTony Ryan @aussietony 

4. Ethical and critical use of technology in the classroom. 
Not as a means to an end but to understand the nature and possibilities of education.
Aim: to be able to use technology in education ethically and critically to nudge and disrupt assumptions about the deterministic effects and impact of technology.
Keri Facer  Neil Selwyn  eds The Politics of Education and TechnologyThe Politics of Education 
Free Chapter

5. Explore and engage with the 2014 Digital Trends  Core Education 
The two emphasis for Maths Like a Pirate and my Mathematical Teaching Inquiry: Building on Student Thinking are:
a)  Learner Agency  
"Where students have the power to act" - @dwenmoth
b) New Approaches to Assessment 
"Processes that cater for a learner centred approach" - @dwenmoth

6. Collaborate to learn 
Exploring Sugata Mitra's ideas around a Self Organised Learning Environment. Where Minimally invasive Education (MIE) is valued.  Sugata's research showed students will Collaborate to learn and learn to collaborate 

7. Knowledge Building 
What could  knowledge building as identified by Scardamalia and Bereiter  possibly look like in the classroom? Leaners shifting from being consumers to producers of knowledge. 

8. Future Focussed

9. NZ on the Edge


This is a work in progress post  - Watch this space!

Outline of Tony Wagner's work:

The importance Play, Passion, Purpose

Tony Wagner discusses that it is no longer important what we know, instead the question is:
What can we do, with what we know?

Based on extensive research Wagner identifies the requirments to be an innovator.

1. Critical thinking and problem solving and being able to ask the right question.
2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
3. Agility and adaptability
4. Initiative and entrepeneurialism
5. Effective written and oral communication
6. Accessing and analyising information
7. Curiosity and imagination

Wagner asks: What do we need to do differently to encourage innovators?

Wagner believes the culture of schools are radically different from the culture that produces Innovators.


1. Schools focus on individual achievement. 
Yet, innovation is a team sport
2. School are about specialisation. 
Yet, the world of innovation is about interdisciplinary problem based learning. 
3. The culture of schooling is about risk aversion and penalising failure. 
Yet,  Innovation is about risk. 
4. The school culture of learning is about passive consumption. 
Yet, Innovators are about creating a real product for a real audience.
5. Schools are about motivation through good grades. 
Yet, Innovators are intrinsically motivated.

Wagner found the central ideas that all innovators experienced was engaging with their
Play, Passion and Purpose!

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