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Games: A Rationale for their Use in the Teaching of Mathematics in School

“When groups of children play mathematical games they need to talk over moves and discuss the correctness of answers and different strategies. Thus, mathematical games encourage discussion;

Children playing a mathematical game as a team quickly learn that they need to co-operate to play effectively. Even children competing against each other are co-operating in playing the game. Thus introducing games into the mathematics classroom can be a way of encouraging co-operation.

Through attaining this aim we also encourage discussion. The success of all mathematics teaching depends to a large extent on the active involvement of the learner. Children learn mathematics by doing and by making the concepts and skills of mathematics their own. Playing games demands involvement. Children cannot play games passively, they must be actively involved, the more so if they want to win. Thus games encourage the active involvement of children, making them more receptive to learning, and of course increasing their motivation. Active involvement not only enhances learning, but according to some psychologists is essential for learning to take place at all. For this reason psychologists including Piaget, Bruner and Dienes suggest that games have a very important part to play in learning, particularly in the learning of mathematics. “

by Paul Ernest, School of Education, University of Exeter

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