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ERIC Number: EJ889868
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 2
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 3
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5785
Be Patient with the Totient
Griffiths, Martin
Mathematics Teaching, n218 p30-31 May 2010
One of the great pleasures of being a mathematics teacher lies in experiencing that very special buzz in the classroom that occurs when every single student is thoroughly engrossed in the task the teacher has set them. The teacher knows that in those precious moments genuine learning is taking place, however noisy and chaotic it may appear to an outsider. The author finds it particularly satisfying when the students are involved in the solving of an abstract problem, with not a utility in sight. They are simply enjoying mathematics for its own sake; appreciating its inherent structural beauty. While the author agrees that abstraction, lack of context and lack of any obvious usefulness in an activity can put some students off mathematics, he also believes that teachers can engender amongst them a deeper appreciation of the subject than merely a utilitarian one. Indeed, from the author's own experiences of both teaching and observing others teach, he remains convinced that, rather than the level of abstraction, it is the way in which the material is delivered that has by far the largest impact upon students' motivation, enjoyment, and subsequent participation in the lesson. In this article, the author describes a simple number-theoretic activity and highlights a number of the educational benefits that would appear to be gained from carrying out lessons such as these occasionally. (Contains 4 tables.)
Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Unit 7 Prime Industrial Park, Shaftesbury Street, Derby, DE23 8YB, UK. Tel: +44-1332-346599; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 10; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A