Bourbaki is a unique program for the curious minds in Fintona's Mathematics Department. Built on the foundations of the MathsCraft curriculum, students and staff work side-by-side, collaboratively on adventures in Maths. In this article, Cathy Devlyn, Fintona's Mathematics Learning Leader, shares more about Bourbaki.
Mathematically minded people are fascinating creatures. They see wonder in numbers, symmetry in shape, patterns in arithmetic, connections between the particular and the general. They’re curious, they question, they grapple to understand, they investigate. They see problems as adventures, dead-ends as being productive and essential, and are motivated not just to find the answer, but rather to take an adventure and see where it leads.
It is with this philosophy in mind that we have re-introduced our Bourbaki program. Built on the foundations of the MathsCraft curriculum (an outreach initiative of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers [ACEMS]), it is designed to give students the opportunity to work like Research Mathematicians. During the ten sessions conducted over Terms 2 and 3, students and staff work side-by-side, collaboratively on adventures that allow them to explore ideas, formulate hypotheses, learn to reason, develop an appreciation of logical arguments and tap into their critical and creative thinking skills.
With a world seemingly focused on quick-fixes, instant gratification and immediate results, the mathematics staff find it refreshing to sit alongside and tinker with some of our best, young mathematical minds in Years 6 – 8. The students soon see that sometimes one person cannot unlock a question on their own; knowledge comes from collective thought and is built over time and with persistence. Through this awareness they build respect, admiration and resilience.
A recent article in online magazine Teacher, highlighted new data from the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) that revealed Year 12 participation in Maths has dropped sharply in recent years amidst a longstanding national decline. This decline is concerning and has ramifications that will resonate for decades, affecting the education and futures of our students. Much can be attributed to the way we think and talk about maths; report author Dr Maaike Wienk explains ‘the students are basically turning away from Mathematics after Year 10, thinking Maths is really hard, it’s not really fun, they think they might get a higher ATAR if they choose no Mathematics at all, or an easier Mathematics subject.’
The Bourbaki program is just one way we, at Fintona, lead in mathematics education; our classrooms are nurturing and supportive, our teachers passionate and interested. Bourbaki has opened many enlightening discussions that extend beyond the sessions and back to the daily classroom. However, we can all do our own part in promoting maths: Have you shared the wonder in a maths question lately?
Mathematics Learning Leader