Retired teachers fill maths gap with easy-to-use dictionary

2010-04-08 00:00

FOR many years, retired teachers Sandy Edwards and Dawn Williams, who taught together at a primary school in Kloof, worked well together.

Like well-oiled machines, Williams would take over pupils in grade seven whom Edwards had taught the previous year.

Since both teachers had a similar teaching style, involving the regular revision of old concepts, they found their pupils’ grasp of mathematics would be so advanced that they could move to grade eight work long before the year was over.

But it was upon their return to the education melting pot, after being asked by former colleagues to teach advanced classes in the afternoons, that the women realised there is a gap in the system.

As a result, the pair, with 60 years’ experience between them, have teamed up once again and devised a maths dictionary and a set of mental challenges.

“We found that teachers were teaching maths, but with no reinforcement done in chunks building on previous knowledge,” said Williams.

This meant they have to explain concepts all over again, which has proved to be time-consuming.

This led to them thinking that if children have some reference handy, it would help to reinforce concepts.

“We thought it could even help parents get involved with homework because they won’t be intimidated.

“They will be able to brush up on what they have forgotten,” Edwards added.

Already, 4 000 copies of the dictionary have been printed.

While most of the buyers have been private schools, some former model C schools are showing an interest. Ewards and Williams have conducted presentations and workshops at these schools.

They also aim to take their dictionary to rural schools, where they believe it is needed the most.

They have approached a sponsor and have identified a need to translate the dictionary into Zulu.

Williams said it was their passion to eradicate the fear of maths that pushed them to develop the new maths tool.

“When you look at those little faces, mouths open and eyes glazed over whenever you introduce something new, you realise they have no confidence.

“And they won’t be able to receive anything you say from that point on because they think maths is difficult,” said Edwards.

She told of their visit to Howick Preparatory School to do a demonstration.

She says a group of grade six girls decided they would not bother bringing money to school to buy the books since they were hopeless at maths.

“They looked at us in horror, but when we assured them that we would talk them through the exercises, they realised they could actually do it.

“All they could say was ‘we are not so stupid’,” said Edwards.

The dictionary, which is stocked by a number of book stores, sells for R100.

Williams said it is easy to use as it is simple, with short sentences.

“It’s like an A-Z maths guide filled with diagrams.

“You get an explanation of what it is and how to do it as succinctly as possible,” she added.

For further information, call Sandy Edwards at 074 132 6296 or visit

• The dictionary is devised for grades four to eight. However, the mental challenges are allocated levels based on the child’s progress, and they are pitched quite high.

• Questions in these challenges are interlinked. To be able to answer the next questions, pupils must have answered the preceding correctly. However, the challenges are filled with clues.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.