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Making maths meaningful

14 March 2013 by Angela

Lots of patterns created from coloured and shiny paperHere’s an update from Education Demonstrator Angelica Vanasse at the Walker Art Gallery:


“Maths might not be the first subject area that comes to mind when looking for curriculum links in the Walker Art Gallery collections, but the Education Team at the Walker has been working on lots of ways to demonstrate how the collections can support maths education.

The Walker’s Education Team frequently hosts Taster Days for Initial Trainee Teachers and PGCE students that focus on learning outside the classroom and curriculum links within the gallery. Since January, 187 students have completed training days including a group of maths specialists from Edge Hill University’s Initial Trainee Teacher programme.

We introduced them to the ‘Take One Picture‘ programme, which uses a painting as a stimulus for learning across the curriculum. The group also had a tour of the gallery and took part in our Draw to Explore session, having a go at some of our favourite drawing techniques for developing creative skills while looking at shapes, lines, and angles. We hunted for shapes and patterns throughout the gallery – from intricate details in modern paintings to carved designs in gilded frames and furniture –  and used our findings to design tessellating collages. By the end of the session the participants had discovered loads of maths inspiration in the gallery and created masterpieces of their own.

We received great feedback from the group, with participant Emily telling us that ‘I didn’t realise how much was on offer for primary school children in the art gallery! There are so many creative activities, which have been planned by the staff, for children to experience with relation to maths. It has enabled me to think of different ways in order to include art within maths, something which I will try with children in school.’  Another participant said that ‘I have never considered an art gallery as a setting for supporting mathematical teaching and learning but after today I have changed my opinion completely. I will definitely be looking to organise a trip with my placement NQT class.’

With a bit of investigative work and a dash of creativity there’s lots of potential for maths learning to be had at the Walker! Check out our flickr set for more photographs from the session.

We look forward to working with Rachel Boyle, Primary Year 2 Leader at Edge Hill University on other projects in the future and look forward to visits from the students and their placement schools.

This year’s ‘Take One Picture’ exhibition will open at the Walker on 1 July – watch this space! To find out more about the free school sessions on offer at the Walker, head over to our learning sessions database.”

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