peopleAs you all (should) know, this blog is the “outside advocacy face” for our restricted online community of practice for South African maths literacy teachers. It was created to provide and track information about Mathematical literacy (ML) in South Africa and provide resources to ML learners and their parents. It also acts as a newsletter system for our resources and bookmarks situated inside our teachers network as well as on other websites. This blog can be freely used by teachers/learners/parents/everybody. I also link publicly available ML resources (tests exams articles, videos etc) to this blog for use by everybody, not just teachers.

The membership to our maths literacy teachers community of practice is, however, restricted to maths literacy teachers and maths literacy teacher supporters (publishers/orgs that do ML teachers training/ML authors). When I created this community as part of my research, I wanted to measure/see how an online community of practice can assist ML teachers to implement this new subject.

I therefore had to, over the last 3 years, turn down many/many learners and parents trying to get into the community  network, to get their hands on papers and resources. I can normally see if it is a teacher and if I am in doubt, I phone the schools. Actually, more learners and parents try to become members than actual ML teachers ;-). But as ML is still a NEW subject, and as teachers are using the papers and resources that are shared as primary resources to set tests and exams, membership HAS to be restricted (for now) as it might/will give learners an unfair advantage to have access to shared papers and tests. So I (and fellow community moderators) take great care to make sure that only bona vidE teachers/teachers supporters become part of the community. We have brainstormed this at F2F workshops as well, and the teachers present felt strongly about that. (Personally I do not have a problem with learners/parents-I kind of feel that if they DO the papers and USE the resources, learning takes place, hurah). So even in my bookmarking database system, teachers’ shared resources leads/links back into the community which require teachers to sign in to access and comment on the materials.

But now we have had to deal with a very grey area, and that is Maths literacy learner tutors, extra lesson teachers and homeshooling parents, should they have access to the community and resources?

As this is a community, I never make these decisions alone and asked various ML teachers for their opinions. The overall consensus was, NO, they shouldn’t be allowed membership. Some of the reasons given…..

  • As they are cram-preparing learners with exam papers for tests and exams they might/will be giving them an unfair advantage (eliminating level 4 thinking questions etc)
  • We sometimes (scary) share test and exams BEFORE they are written to get comment or clarification on issues/levels etc, which can lead to compromising situations….
  • Quote:”We struggle to set GOOD papers and extra lesson teachers just steal our stuff and DRILL it into the kids heads. Then they take the credit for SAVING the kids – at great costs to the parents. And in the end the kids don’t learn how to problem solve. No, No, No
  • Quote: “I want the freedom to talk about things that happen in my class, air my concerns and speak my mind, without it getting back to learners or parents- this community should be just for teachers!

On the other hand I would like us to look at the bigger picture. I feel that tutors/extra lesson teachers could contribute a a great deal to our community of practice. They deal with learners from a different angle and can give us feedback which could be invaluable for our learning pathways as ML teachers. GOOD tutors/extra lesson teachers also create their own material which will be a great asset if shared with the community. Lastly, they essentially do what we do, they help learners to be mathematically literate!! So should they not also have a place in our community of practice???  This argument holds for home schooling parents as well…

So I have decided to open up this discussion and have created a poll for member teachers to vote inside the community. But I would also like to hear the voices, counter arguments of tutors and extra lesson teachers on this matter!  So this is where you can make your argument for inclusion onto our ML teacher community!!

Who should have access to this ML teachers community of practice??? Click on Leave a comment above this post……