School of Education

Bringing Mathematics and the Arts Together

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UKZN lecturer Dr Makie Kortjass graduated with a PhD in Education for research that explored an integrated learning approach (ILA) in early childhood mathematics teacher education.

‘I wanted to become a change agent by assisting student teachers to develop a genuine interest in mathematics and seeing it within their reach,’ said Kortjass.

It was a self-study project in which Kortjass used arts-based materials and methods, including collages, concept maps and metaphors, to help her study provide a noteworthy contribution to early childhood mathematics teacher education and self-study methodology.

She found that ‘mathematics was taught in an abstract way, which did not make sense because it lacked connection with everyday lives. Since mathematics is related to tangible aspects and connected to our everyday lives, it needs an integrated approach to show the interconnectedness of mathematics and our lives. Students acquired more mathematical skills when they were actively involved. Playing games as an extramural activity for understanding mathematics is invaluable.’

Kortjass adds her voice to other South African scholars in mathematics integration conversations, especially in early childhood mathematics teacher education. She plans to create an exciting and accessible classroom for her diverse groups of pre-service teachers.

‘I want to channel my student teachers’ negative experiences into positive ones by bringing mathematics and the arts together through hands-on arts-based activities such as creating collages and concept maps, artefact retrieval, and memory drawing. I hope this will inspire their learners to enjoy discovering mathematics.’

Kortjass thanked her supervisor, friends and family for their support. ‘I am thankful and appreciative to have such an amazing family who supported me throughout my PhD research. I will forever be grateful.’

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