My 7 iron

numeracy leaders teachers Oct 26, 2023

When I was growing up I often played golf alongside my dad, pa and uncles. The thing was, in ‘those days’ there wasn’t 'kids size' golf sticks available.

So for my 8th birthday my dad and pa organised for an old '7 iron' and putter to be cut down to my size.

I was so excited to have golf sticks that ‘fitted’!

Each round I played I would use the 7 iron for every shot. Off the tee… 7 iron… on the fairway…. 7 iron… in the bunker… 7 iron… chipping to the green…7 iron…then on the green the putter would come out!

I would move onto the next hole and whether it was a 3 par (short hole) or a 5 par (long hole) I would rinse and repeat my 7 iron and putter strategy. For many years I played round after round with just these two sticks.

What I didn’t realise at the time was this this may have held me back from a professional golf career!

Using the 7 iron over and over meant I became really confident and comfortable with this club. This meant when I got older and grew into a set of Ladies clubs that dad found discarded on a local hard rubbish collection, I continued to use only the 7 iron and the putter! Still to this day I can hit a 7 iron further than I can hit a wood!

This brings me to my eldest daughter, who is a keen golfer.

On the holidays I walked the course with her as she played several rounds. She was applying for a handicap, so she needed to gather score cards for 54 holes. 

Over and over I watched her choose the most appropriate clubs according to where her ball landed. When she was a long way from the hole she would pull out her wood. When she was close to the green she would use her pitching wedge.

She was choosing the most useful club after assessing each situation. She can successfully hit all the clubs and knows when to use each to maximise her shots, so she is already a MUCH better player than I will ever be.

As I walked, I was reflecting on how this is a useful analogy for the maths classroom!

There are students in your class who have found a strategy and they are using this for EVERY situation. For example, some children love to use counting all, or they might use repeated addition for working out multiplication facts. While this gets them the correct answer, it is not the most efficient or effective way to find the answer.

In the beginning, when students are novices, we want all students to have at least one way or strategy to solve a problem (a 7 iron). But, as they move towards expertise, we want to provide opportunities that allow them to recognise there are other strategies and ways to approach the problem. This is developing their number sense.

So this week, I encourage you to have a think about the students in your class who are using a 7 iron over and over. Consider if they are ready to try another 'club'- it won’t feel comfortable (I still really don’t like hitting a 'wood'), but expanding their repertoire will help their 'long game'!

Have a great week!

Ange 🎲🎓

Want to learn more from Dr Ange Rogers? Click here to find out about her 'Quality Place Value Assessment in Years 3-6 Mini Course'

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