CMNetwork E-bulletin: October 2011

    © Copyright M. Worthington & E. Carruthers 2012

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Professor Martin Hughes

We are sad to learn of the recent death this summer, of Professor Martin Hughes. Martin's commitment to young children's learning is well known and evidenced by his joint research with Barbara Tizard, into talk in the nursery and home, published in Young Children Learning. In particular, it was Martin's seminal research on young children's mathematics Children and Number that contributed to our early thinking of children's ability to communicate their mathematical thinking and the power of graphicacy.

From the obituary:
'In ‘Children and Number’ (1986), Martin contrasted the mathematical abilities that children possess before they go to school with the difficulties many experience when they first encounter mathematics at school. He posed the paradox: "Young children appear to start school with more mathematical knowledge than has hitherto been thought. In that case, why should they experience such difficulty with school mathematics?" He presented convincing evidence that young children develop their own informal ways of writing mathematics, which do not match the system of symbols they are required to learn at school. The important message, that children need to build links between their informal and formal understanding of numbers, was lost when the national numeracy strategy was introduced in 1999. Martin's work deserves further attention' (Guardian 4th Sept. 2011).

We were fortunate to discuss our early work on children’s mathematical graphics with Martin during the 1990s. However, it is a matter of sad regret that we did not have an opportunity to discuss either our analysis that led to our taxonomy, or our more recent and continuing research.

The Guardian - obituary

Understanding Children’s Mathematical Graphics: Beginnings in Play

The example below is included in chapter 6 of our new book.

Nursery - a spontaneous ball game

Henry, Joe and Thomas: 4 years, 4 months - 4 years 7 months.

These are just two of the many graphical signs that these boys generated during the course of their game. These abstract symbols have personal meaning for the children within the context of their play and support their developing understanding of the power of graphical symbols.

'This means you lose'

'This means you double lose'
Written number and quantities: explorations with symbols


Gallery 5: Beginnings in Play


New! Worthington, M. (2011) ‘From astronaut to problem solving: tracing children’s symbolic meanings’ in J. Moyles, J. Georgeson and J. Payler (Eds.) Beginning Teaching, Beginning Learning. Maidenhead: Open University Press, (4th Ed.). This chapter focuses on children’s meaning making in play, with an emphasis on graphicacy. It considers the relationship between children’s spontaneous graphical communications in play and later mathematical problem solving.


Recently Published! Worthington, M. (2011) 'Young Mathematicians: Global learners’ in E. Murphy (Ed.) Welcoming Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Classrooms. Bristol: Multi-lingual Matters. This chapter explores case studies from an international school in Zurich where teachers have enthusiastically introduced children’s mathematical graphics.


Recently Published! Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2011) Developing Children's Mathematical Graphics: Supporting Early Mathematical Thinking. Maidenhead: Open University Press. This professional development pack provides courses and training materials for course providers in Local Authorities, Children’s Centres, nursery schools and Schools, and includes a copy of our recently published book.

Recently Published! Carruthers, E. and Worthington, M. (2011) Understanding Children's Mathematical Graphics: Beginnings in Play. Maidenhead: Open University Press. We are excited by the many examples and case studies from early years teachers and practitioners that we were able to include in this new publication. This reflects how those working with young children are embracing children’s mathematical graphics and developing graphicacy in their own ways.

Courses and Conferences

Courses and Conferences: 2010-2011

Current Education News

BBC Education News
Guardian Education News
Independent Education News
Times Education Supplement (TES)


September 2011
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