A few days back I promised to reply to three long threads on Twitter from the Early Childhood Maths Group (ECMG). Before I get going, I have a couple of observations to make about the debate so far. Firstly, it's extremely difficult to reply to a discussion in this form. Twitter is uniquely unsuited for detailed discussion. Just pulling all the Tweets together for this blog has been quite a job, let along responding to the points made.
Secondly, I'm struck by the fact that ECMG is an anonymous group. Neither the groups's Twitter profile, nor its blog, tells us who's its members are. It's clear that the group has expertise and knowledge: why the secrecy?
The ECMG were replying to a two-part blog which I wrote with Debbie Morgan, Director for Primary Mathematics at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM). This blog is my response - I am not speaking here for the NCETM or the East London Research School.
Our two-part blog strives to provide a balanced account of how research and evidence can help us to improve the teaching of maths in the early years, whilst also being honest about the limitations of this approach. Some of those limitations arise out of gaps in understanding, areas where more research is needed. Other times, practice develops appropriately without the need for evidence first. If education were as simple as finding the evidence and putting it into practice, lots of us would be out of a job. Evidence is important: but so are context and professional judgement. It isn't reasonable to expect everything any early years setting or school does to be 'evidence based'.
Onto the ECMG's Twitter thread. Day 1 begins with the following argument: