"Learning is a by-product of fun"
I am asked quite often why number agents works and what makes it so different from other maths approaches. I have given this a lot of thought over the last few weeks and believe the key is connection...connection in terms of relationships and connection in terms of emotions. Number Agents really doesn't differ from other approaches in teaching maths, in fact the only thing that is different is the way it is taught.
Children connect to this approach in ways they would never connect to normal maths sessions. In fact most never ever see it as 'learning maths.'
1)They connect to each other in a new and different way. Within an imagined world as an imagined team of experts, working together on a very important task - defeating the villains and saving their clients. This sense of camaraderie truly allows children to work in purposeful mixed level teams.
2)In the position of experts the worry of not knowing is taken away, their is a new belief in their abilities and success happens daily as the villains are defeated. This success builds on itself each day until, by the end of the year 1 children are actually competent mathematicians operating around the beginning of Stage 4.
4)The teacher is no longer the teacher...positioned as equal in the play the relationship with children becomes stronger, it's like we are all in it together!
5)Fun - it is fun, fun for us and fun for them...in fact we often laugh :) We all know that we remember aspects of school that were fun for us...this component linked with maths makes their connection to this area of learning stronger.
6)Emotional Connection - through all these aspects children form a huge emotional connection to maths, the way they feel about it, shapes their achievement and how they perceive themselves as mathematicians. In fact agents often spend time pretending at morning tea and lunchtime and are more likely to engage in agent related tasks at home.
7)It is playful, children learn best through play, it is that simple.
I love this Ted talk by the late Rita Pierson, her words should resonate with all of us.